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Historical Society 

v, SL. 


r*\ 62 AND 64 PEAR1 STRRET 



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Index, ........ v. 

Officers of the Society, 1880, .... xxii. 

Preface, ........ xxiii. 

Physiognomy of Buffalo, . Rev. G. W. Hosmer, D. /?„ 1 

Early Transportation, New York State, Col. Wm. A. Bird, 17 

Extracts from the Vanderkemp Papers, . 3? 

Editor's Notes to the above, .... 106 

The Germans of Buffalo, . . Ismar S. Ellison, 117 

Oliver G. Steele. — A Memorial Paper, Rev. G. W. Hosmer, D.D., 145 
The Inland Lock Navigation Company. 

First Report of the Directors, . Pkilip Schuyler, President, 15- 

First Report of the Engineer, . William Weston, 167 

Joseph Ellicott, . . Prof. Ellicott Evans, LL. D., 1S0 

The Press of Erie County. — Its Early History, Guy H. Salisbury, 190 

Red Jacket and his Portrait, * . Oliver G. Steele, 218 
Erie Canal Papers. 

Its Origin, .... M. S. Hawley, 227 

Its Origin, and Preliminary Measures concerning it, Geo. Geddes, 263 

Its Origin, Resources and Necessity, . M. S. Hawley, 305 
Its Origin, in Reference to Messrs. Morris, Forman, Geddes and 

Hawley, . . . M. S. Hawley, 335 

The Battle of Grand Island, . Xatlwniel Wiigus, 351 

Fifty Years Ago, . . . Hon. James Sheldon, 357 

Millard Fillmore. — His Early History written by himself, 375 

Death of Job Hoist NGTON, (Poem), . Elder A. Turner, 3S0 

The Niagara Frontier, . . 0. H. Marshall, 305 

Portrait of Red Jacket (Sa-go-ye-u at -ha), . . Eroniispiece. 





ADAM. Carl. I 


"Adams' Defense," 51. 

Adams, D. P., 215. 

Agricultural Society in New York, 


Agricultural Society in Albany, for 
the Western District, 41. 107. 

Albany, 4, 17, iS,. 22, 23, 36, 39, 
45, 46, 47, 16S, 179, 236, 261, 
289, 315, 337- 

Albrecht, F., 135. 

Albro, Stephen, 203. 

Aldridge's (see Aldrit/j, 49, 101, 173, 


Aldritz, Mr., (sec Aldridge), 49. 
Alexandria, Va., 45. 
"Alfana," 52, in. 
Algonkin Tribes, 405. 
Allegany Mountains 300. 
Allegany River, 365. 
Allgewaehr, Louis, 136. 
Allen, Ebenezer, 416. 
Allen's Creek, 274, 303. 
Alsacians in Buffalo, 123, 124. 
Alvord, Elisha, 273. 
Amherst, Gen., 419. 
Anderson, Col. John, 371. 
Annin, Joseph, 21, 408. 
Arlington, George, 2o5. 
Armistad, Captain, 409. 
Armstrong's, The Widow, 60, 61 . 

IOO, T13. 
Artillery Telegraph, 261. 
Arx, James Von, 136. ^ 

Astor, John Jacob, 36S. 
Aurora, Erie County. 216. 3S6. 
Aurora, East, Erie Co., 216, 386. 

BABCOCK, Mrs. George K.. 389. 

Raton, Rev. William, 364. 

Bach man, G., 136. 

Bacr, Mr., the third German in Buf- 
falo, 120. 121. 

Bacr. Rudolph, 139. 

Baethig, Dr., 126". 

Ball, Henry L., 202. 

Baltimore, 5, 19. 

Bankert\ Inn, 48, 101. 

Bannister, Mr. X. IE, 213. 

Banyan (see Ba'mer), GoId>lirow , 20. 

Banyer (see Banyan), Goldsbrow, 

20, 267. 
Barker, a guide, 86, S7, S3, 92. 94, 

Barker, Hawley & Sill, 14S. 
Barker, Judge Zenas, 149. 
Barton, Mrs. (Benjamin) Agnes, 

415 (n.) 
Barton, Benjamin, 2t. 403, 415. 
Barton, James L., 363. 
Basswood Trees (on Buffalo Creek), 

Batavia, X. V., 1S3, 187, 200, 22J. 

229, 355, 3^4. 393. 423- 
Bath, X. \ ., Portage at. 271. 
Bayard, William, 2>S. 
Beaverdam, 78. 
Beck, Jesse, 209. 
Becker, Philip, 144. 
Beech Tree, Chief, 54. 
Beeckman Family, The, 45. 
Behrens, Col. William E., 144. 
Bellinger, Capt., 49, 101. 
Bemis, James D., 199, 201. 
Bender, 'Philip IE, 131. 
Bennet, Chevalier, 79. 
Berger, G., 136. 
Berner, Rev., 132. 
Bernhard, 91. 
Besser, E., 135. 
Bettinger, Stephen, 134. 
Beyer, ( ieorge. [34. 
Beyer, Jacob, 134, 
Beyer, Philip, i2_\ 
Beyer, Mr^. Philip, 123. 
Bingham, Capt., 85, 97, 99. 114. 
Bird Island, 22, 302, 418, 41.). 
Bird. Col. William A., 17, loo. 
Blachly, Tempe W., 387. 
Black Creek, b}, 7?, 201. 
Black Rock, 8, 9, 11. 22. 23, 15, 

2S5, 362. 415 , 419, 423. 
Black Rock, Battle of, 390. 
Black Rock Ferry, ">, 410. 
Black Rock Harbor. 8. 
Black Rock Pier, 418. 
Black Rock Rapid-, 22. 
Black Rock. South \ illage of, 21. 
Blacksmith, John, an Indian sach« 

cm. 411. 
Bleecker, llermanus, 236, 311. 31c 



Bloodgood, S. DeWitt, 317. 

Bloody Run, The, 406, 411. 

Blossom, Col. Ira A., 14S, 150. 

Bodenbender, Rev. C, 142. 

Bogardus, Mr., 46. 

Bonaparte, Joseph, 36S. 

Bonaparte, Napoleon, 362. 

Boon, Mr., 100, 112. 

Boston Common, 4. 

Boughton, Enos, 413. 

Boughton Hill, near Victor, X. Y., 

Boughton's Tavern, 413. 
Boundary Commissioners, 40S. 
Bradstreet, Col., 419. 
Bradstreet's MS. (unpublished), 419. 
Brand, Rev. P., 141. 
Brant, Chief, 422. 
Braun, C. \\\, 135. 
Brayman, James O., 203, 210. 
Brayman, Mason, 207. 
Breakwater, the first at Buffalo, lo, 

Brewer, the first in Buffalo, 120. 
Brigham, W. 370. 
Brisbane, Albert, 209. 
Brisbane, Mrs. James, 3. 
Brisbane, Miss Margaret, 364. 
Bristol, C. C, 409. 
British Museum, 423. 
British Niagara (Niagara Village), 

Brittin, William, 251. 
Broadhead, Charles C. 

head), 32, 23S, 291, 

Brodhead, Charles C. 

Bronner, Christian, 139. 
Bronson, Alvin, 23. 
Bronk, John. 46. 
Brooks, General Mieah, 251. 
Brown, Maj.-Gen. Jacob. 367 . 
Brown, J. S., 152. 
Brown & Co., 24. 
Bruce, Mr., of New 

builder, 76, 98, 1 14- 
Bruce's Creek, 63, 70, 

Bruce's Travels, 377. 
Brunck, Dr. Francis C, 130, 144. 

Brunck \ Domedion (Doraidion), 

130, 204. 
Brunck & Ibid. 130. 
Brunck, Held \ Co.. 1 v>. 

(see Brod- 
321, 322, 

(see Broad - 

York, boat- 

o. <K 

Brunn, A., 135. 

Bucktails and Clintonian>. 27. 

Buffalo (Buffaloe). I, 191. 245. 

265, 417, 413, 423. 
Buffalo Academy of Fine Art-, 
Buffalo Board of Trade. 120. 
Buffalo Central School, 151. 
Buffalo Creek, 9, id, 14S. 362, 

41S. 419, 421, 422. 423. 424. 
Buffalo Exchange, The. 14. 
Buffalo Gas Light Co., 154. 
Buffalo Historical Society. 117, 
Buffalo. Origin «of the name of. 
Buffalo Savings Bank, 120. 
Buffalo, Site of (earlie-t nienti<» 

Buffalo Society of Natural Hi- 

Buffalo Water Work-, 154. 
Buffon on American Aborigine- 



tors . 

Ceo. W'., 209, 21 
J. C, 203, 210. 
Rev. Otto, 139. 
Colonial Gov., 


Burnet, Colonial Gov., 111 

Burnt-ship Bay, 415. 
Burt, B. B., Esq., of Oswego, 109, 

Burton, Simon, 21 1. 
Burwell, 1 lenry, 203. 
Butler, Comfort K., 2()f. 2 to. 
Butler, Col., 40;. 
Butler. T. ,V M., 213. 
Butler-bury (Niagara Village), 405. 
Byington. Benajah, 345. 347- . ; 4 ; - 

CAPAR.\< .11 KIN (see ( 

95 • 
Cadaraqui it. ataraqui), Ontario lake. 

58, S<>. 266. 
Cadwallader ov Stagg, 205. 
Cadwallader, Mitchenor, : : 
Cagnawajha (Cagnawaugha), 4v 5> 

Cat us Ponilias, 40, 1 10, 
Calais, France, 15. 
i Caldwell, Samuel, 203. 
; ('alien tier, S, N. 14^. 

! Campbell, Lieut. Don, 410 
Campbell'- Life of l>eW •.;• I 

283, 4><>- 
Canada, id. 3s. 65, 78, 185, 411. m». 

Canada ( reek. («* | 1. >,_•. 

kk.. 1 1 3, 163, 174. 1 75. 



Canadian Rebellion of 1S38, 414. 
Canadavvay Creek, 366. 
Canajoharie, 4S, 62, 101, no, 233. 
Canal around Falls of Ohio River, 

Canal, Opening of the Erie, II. 
Canal Commissioners, Board of (see 

" Commissioners.") 
Canal Fund created, 32. 
Canal meetings in 1S15, 2.33, 289. 
"Canal Policy," 297, 306. 
Canals, Value of, 229. 
" Canal Ticket," The, 273, 280, 301, 

Canandaigua, 190, 199, 200, 228, 
242, 243, 2S9, 325. 
Canandaigua Outlet. 2S4. 
Canaseraga Creek, 85. v 

Canaseraga Hills, So, 300, 301. 
Canastoga (Pennsylvania) wagons, 24. 
Capitol Square, Albany, 4. 
Carmichael, Charles, 3S7. 
Carpenter, Win. A., 201. 
Cartier, James, 395, 396. 
Carver, the traveler, 266. 
Cary, Trumbull, 364. 
Castle, Amos, 377. 
Cataraqui (Cadaraqui), or Ontario 

Lake, 65, 79, 86, 266. 
Cat Nation (Fries), 402. 
Catskill, 46. 
Catskill Landing, 46. 
Cattaraugus Creek, 365, 422. 
Cattaraugus Reservation, 397, 421, 

Cayuga Creek (Gill Creek), 413, 415. 
Cayuga Lake. 115, 161, 163, 176, 

179, i3o, 2S4, 300. 
Cayugas, The. 424. 
Cayuga Valley, 2S6. 
Cazenovia, X. V., 112. 
Chadbourne, John 8., 214. 
Chadwick's Bay, 366. 
Chapin, Dr. Cyrenius, 12. 
Chamberlain, Sylvester, 207. 
Champlain, 396, 398, 496. 
Champlain Canal, 249. 346. 
Champlain, Lake, 30, 157, 164, 236, 

26S, 290, 295, 315, 31S, 319. 
Champlain. Voyages tie, 39b. 
Charlevoix, Father, 404. 
Chastellux, Marquis of, 19. 
Chaumont, M. I.eRay de. 314. 
Chauncey, Commodore, 24. 
Chautauqua, 17. 
Cheektowaga, 204. 

Chemung River, 271. 

Cheney, Zaccheus, 380, 3S3. 

Chester (England), 6. 

Chicago, 5, 328. 

Chicago River, 246, 249. 

Chippewa, 2S5. 

Chippewa Creek, 413, 414. 

Chippewa River, 410. 

Church Land Reservation, 87. 

Cincinnati, 4, 323. 

Clarendon Square, Buffalo, 14. 

Clark, Benjamin, 212. 

Clark, Fred. C. 1S3. 

Clark, J. B., 206. 

Clark, j. H. V., author, 112. 

Clark's "Onondaga," 267. 

Clark, Pendleton, "Governor/ 1 355. 

Clary, Joseph, 3S7. 

Clapp, Almon M., 200, 202, 203, 
211, 216. 

Clapp, A. M., & Co., 203. 

Clement, Jesse, 214. 

Clement & Faxon, 214. 

Clinton, DeWitt, 9, 10. 24, 27, 28, 
29, 31, 106, 109, 146, 147, 191, 
231, 244 (n.), 252, 254, 255, 256, 
257, 261, 264, 2S2, 254, 2SS, 290, 
291, 293, 29S, 306, 310, 326, 337. 
352, 355. 353. 363. 369. 370. 

Clinton, DeWitt, Letter of. 106, 109. 

"Clinton's Ditch," no, 121. 

Clinton, Governor George, 19. 45, 
47. 50, 51. 54. 234, 267, 333. 417. 

Clinton, Gen. James, 19, 20. 

Clyde, Canal of, 246. 

Cochran, Major, 256. 

Cockburn, James, 113. 

Cognawojha, 48. 

Cohoes Bridge, 170. 

Cohoes Falls, 38, 39. r68, too, 171, 

Coit, George, ir, 12. 148. 

Colbreath (Colbraith), Col., 57, 58, 


Golden. Caduallader D.. 27. 28. 

230, 231, 236, 243. 255. 205, 288, 

289, 304. 308, 313. 332. 
Cold Spring (Buffalo), 150. 
Colles. Christopher. 231, 233. 234, 

Commissioners of the Canal Fund, 

Hoard of, 32, 20?. 208. 
Commissioners of Kxploration (Krie 

Canal). First Hoard of, 343, 28i, 

320, 340, 344- 



Commissioners of Exploration (Erie ! 
Canal), Second Board of, 29, 31. 

Commissioners of the Land Office, 

Committee of General Safety, New- 
York, 270. 

Common School Education Society 
(Erie Co.), 152. 

Connecticut, 8, 30, 38. 

Cook, Lemuel, 360. 

Cook, Lothrop, 360. 

Coquatanoy Rift (Rapid), 176. 

Cornelius Creek, 416. 

Coronelli's map, 398, 402. 

Corydon, Indiana, 361. 

Cosackie (Coughsagie), now Cox- 
sackie, 102. 

Cotton, Dr. Walter, 299. 

Coughsagie (Cosachie), 46, 102. 

Council of Revision, The, 259, 204, 

Crandall, William L., 202, 

Crary, Capt. Leonard P., 206. 

Cron'k, James (Sheriff), 352, 333, 

Crooked Lake, 271. 
Cuyler, Jacob, 4S. 

DAN BY, Augustine G., of Utica. 

Danforth (Engraver), 21S, n. 
Darby, William, 26, 237, 276, 27S, 

311, 313, 319, 322, 325, 326, 33S, 

Darien Speculation, The, 12. 
Dart, Joseph, 9, to, 148. 
Davies, Prof., (West Point), 152. 
Day, David M., 205. 
Dean, James, Oneida Interpreter, 

II4 ' * 
Dean's " Improvement. 68. 

DeGraff, John J., 23. 

DeHaas, Carl. 130. 

Delaware Indians, 36r, 

Delaware River, ~4, 44. 

Deilenbach (Dellenbaugh), D< 

Frederick, 12;, 139, 143. M4 

Dellenbaugh, Dr. (see Dellenbs 

Denison, the Irishman, 354. 
DeNonville, Marquis, yy). 4 (> ° 
DePeyster, Lieut., 40S. 
DeRonde, Rev., 102. 
Detroit, Garrison at, 411. 
i Detroit River, iS. 
Devil's Hole, The, 400, 410. 41; 



Devening, Dr., 125, 144. 

DeWitt, Simeon, 25, 26, 2?. 237. 

238, 251, 252, 269, 27S, 2S2, 2:3. 

284, 290, 296, 297, 301, 311, 313 

319, 320, 321, 322, 325, 326, 338, 

339- 340, 34i, 345- 
DeZeng, Baron, 56, 57, 59. 70, 71, 

73, 78, 83, S6, 91, 92. 94, 95, 97. 

99, 101. 
DeZeng, Lady, 101. 
Dickson, Capt. Wm., 353. 
Dinsmore, "Governor," 208.213. 
Dismal Swamp Canal, 250. 
Domedion (Domidion), J., 204. 
Dorchester, Lord, I S5 . 
Dor.^heimer & Co., 130. 
Dorsheimer, Philip, 144. 
Dossert, John, 135. 
Draper, Lyman C, LL.D.. 
Drusus, the Roman General, 109. 
Dubois, James, 214. 
Duehrfeldt, Frederic, 136. 
Duehrfeldt, Gustav, 136. 
Duehrfeldt, II., 135. 
Duer, Hon. Wm. A., 25S. 
Duke of Bridge-water'^ Canal. 300. 
Duncan. Mr., 3S0. 
Dunkirk, 366. 
Durham boat-. 22. 
Dutch We<t India Co., Recor - 

Dwight's Geography. 377. 
Dwinnell, I. VY., 203. 20S. 

23 r, 

EAGLE Tavern. Buffalo, o 
Eastabrooks, E. II., 20S. 
Ebenezer Village, 424. 
Eddy. Thomas, 24. 2S, 29 
240 252, 255. e8i, j~j. 
Edinburgh, Scotland, o. 
Edwards, Lewis B., 215. 
Egenter, Joseph, 131 . 
Ehrman, Dr., 137. 
Eighteen-Mile Creek, 417. 

Ellicott, Andrew, 183, 184. I 
Ellicott, Benjamin, 1^0, 107. 
Ellicott, Joseph. 3. 4. 5. "• 3 

l8l, 1 "'2, I Of, 252, - - J 

27;, 27S, 200, 2 )I, 2o7. 
V20. 341. 

Ellicott. foseph, Sen., 182, 


Ellicott 's Clock. 1- J 
Ellieotfs Mills, 1S2. 
Ellicott Square kilock, 1 40- 

KUU. i'.eu. lohn C, : 



;: . 
! • 

. 31 . 

34 2. 


Ellis, Warren, 299. 

Ellison, Ismar S., 117, 132. 

Emigration, Western, through Buf- 
falo, 13, 132. 

England, Col., 414 (n.) 

Erie Canal, The, 8, 9, 10, 18, 21, 
24, 28, 32, 10S, 109, no, 146, 
147, 188, 190, 227, 229, 231, 234, 
247, 263, 305, 323. 

Erie, Lake, 17, 3S, 40, 41, 190, 232, 
235, 236, 239, 242, 245. 247, 327, 
339* 340, 359. 362, 370, 407, 417, 

^ 421, 423- 

Erie, The Rapids of Lake, 420. 

Erie, The Schooner, 374. 

Eries, The, 39S, (n.), 402. 

Elschenbach, Moritz, 137. 

Esopus Hill (Kingston), 56. 

Esslinger, Carl, 130. 

Evans, Prof. Ellicott, 1S1. 

Evans, Lewis (his map referred to), 
409 (n.) 

Evans, Mrs. Rachel, 163. 

Everett, Rev. L. S., 211. 

FALLS in the Mohawk (Cohoes?) 

15S, 160, 161. 
Farley, Major, 99. 
Farmer's Brother, 41 r, 412, 41 S. 
Farthing's Meat Shop, 352. 
Faxon, Charles, 202, 203, 207, 214. 
Faxon, Charles, 2d, 2ro. 
Faxon, Henry, 207. 
Faxon, James, 202, 207. 
" Feast of the Dead," 398. 
Federlein, Prof. Friedrich, 135. 
" Feen-Residence of Oneida Lake" 

(see "Frenchman's Island"), (>i. 
Feldman, Anthony, 123. 
Felgemacher, A. R., 135. 
Ferguson, Bartemas, 215. 
Ferris, Charles D., 200, 214. 
Fillmore, Calvin. 375. 
Fillmore, Millard, 148, 220111.), 375. 
Fillmore, Nathaniel, 375. 
Fillmore, Samuel, 360. 
Fish Creek, Little, 63. 71, 75. 
Fish Creek or Oneida River (see 

Fish Creek, present), 38, 63, 64, 

68, 70, 75, 85, 97, 99, TOO, 112. 

Fish Creek, (present) (see Fish Creek 

or Oneida River), 1 12. 
Fisheries in the Western District. 04, 

f>6, 67. 70, 77. 
Fidier's Baiterv { Fort Schiosser), 401). 

Fisher's Bay, 114. 

Fisher's Bay Creek (Oneida Lake), 

75. 114- 
Fish, Rev. Theophilus, 211. 
Flach, Col. Richard, 142, 144. 
Flagler, T. T., 309. 
Flats, The (Buffalo;, 417. 
Fletcher of Saltoun, 12. 
Flint, Dr. Austin, 214. 
Flint, Dr. Austin, Jr., 214. 
Florida, East, 370. 
Follett, Frederick, 200. 
Follett & Haskins, 205. 
Follett, Oran, 205. 
Folsom, Noah, 360. 
Fonda, Mr., 99. 
Fonda's (Funda's) Purchase, 62, 63, 

Foote, Dr. Thomas M., 200. 201, 

Ford, Mr., 28. 32, 25 8. 
Forest Lawn Cemetery, in Buffalo, 

Forman, Oeorge, printer, New York, 
t 157 (n.) 
Forman, Judge Joshua, 27, 231, 251. 

252, 254, 272, 273, 274, 279, 2S0. 

297, 299, 300. 30S, 311, 312, 320, 

324, 325, 341, 342, 343. 344. 345- 

346, 347. 348, 34<). 
Fortifications at Oswego, 89. 
Fort Ann. 164. 
Fort Brewerton (Brewington), 39. 63, 

64, 85, 86, 97, 9S, 109, 112, 114, 

Fort Bull, 59, roi, in. 175. 
Fort Conty, 403. 
Fort DeNonville, 403. 
Fort Da Portage 'Fort Scklo&ser), 

Fort Erie, 236, 237, 315. 410. 

Fort Edward, 157, 164, 


270, 316. 
Fort Frontenac (Kingston), IS, 10. 

Fort ( ieorge, 405. 
Fort Herkimer, 173. 
F.ut LaFayette, 263. 
Fort Newport, 174. 1 7r • 
Port Niagara, i s . 400, 401, 4°3. 

400. 410. 411, 414. 415. 4*>. 421. 
Fort Ontario (old), ur, 115. 
; Fort Ontario (present), 1 12. 
• Fort Oswego, in. i]?. 

Fort Sehlosser, 17. i s . 4'"") )''*• 4' I. 

413. 420. 



Fort Schuyler, Old (Utica), 19, 20, 
51, 101, in. 160, 161, 162, 172, 
174, 175, 179. 

Fort Schuyler, 2d (Rome), iS. 233. 

Fort Stanwix (Rome), 18, 19, 20, 38. 
39, 45, 56, 57, 5S, 60, 65, 101, 109, 
in, 113, 114, 232, 235, 267. 

Fort Suppose, 421. 

Forward, Oliver, 11, 12, 14S, 206, 

Fosdick, John S., 142. 

Fossa, Drusiana (Drusi), 40, 109. 

Foster, Thomas, 210. 

Fourier, Charles, 209. 

Four-Mile Point, 90. 

Fowler. Capt. Benjamin, 353. 

Fox, Augustus C. 370. 

Fox and Wisconsin Rivers connec- 
tion, 249, 309. 

Fox River, 249. 

Francis, Simeon, 206. 

Francis. Dr., (X. V.,) 224, 225. 

French. Ezra B.. 212. 

French Landing (Two-Mile Pond), 

Frenchman's Island (Oneida Lake), 
So, S4, 9S, in, 112, 114. 

Friederich. Valentine, 136. 

Fremin, Father, 399. 

French Storehouse (hlock-hou-ei at 
Lewiston, 404. 

Frey, Peter, 70. 

Frisbee, Gideon, 360. 

Fuller, Amos, ioo, 101. 

Fulton, Robert, 29, 2S6. 

Funda's (Fonda's) Purchase or Pat- 
ent. 62. 63, 113. 

Fur Company, Northwestern, 39. 

GAGE, General, 409. 

Gallatin, Albeit. 27, 28: 

Ganzevoort, L., 57, 87. 

Garin. Lewi>. 291. 

Gamier (Jesuit Mis>ionary 

Garn.>ey's Bay, 366. 

Gass. George. 123. 

Gates. Horatio, 202, 203. 

Gedde>, George. 203, 310 

, James, 2 s *. 29 
253. 271, 272, 
2>4, 2S5, 2CJO, 
3d, 302, 311. 
324, 325, 326, 

I. 40: 





343. 344. 345 
Geib. F.. 131. 

• 3™i 

- ■> 1 




28 1 










Geigle, Aug., 141. 

General Scott, The Schooner. 965, 

Genesee Country, The, 19. 264. 
Genesee Lands. The, $8, 62. 63. 
Gene>ee River. The, 245. 252. 274. 

275, 276, 277, 2-55, 291, 297. 312. 

320, 326, 39S, 399. 400, 411. 422. 
'• Genesee^, The," 56. 
Genesee Valley, 2^0. 
Geneva, 235, 23S. 241, 242, 283, 2*_i. 

2.S9, 323. 343, 344. 
Geneseo, 3S3. 

George, Lake, 3S, 236, 31;. 
Georger, F. A., 134 
Georgian Bay .x Toronto Canal. The, 

German American* in Buffalo. 1 17. 
German, Mr.. 273. 
German and English Literary Soci- 
ety (Buffalo), 133. 
German Churches in Buffalo, 1 37— 

German Flats (Utica), iS. 21, 47. 49. 

German immigration to Buffalo in 

1S27, 1 19. 122. 
German immigration to N. Y., 118. 
German language in Public S 

of Buffalo? 142. 
German Podges in Buffalo. 137. 
German Military in Buffalo. 143, 144. 
German names misspelled, 121. 122. 
German population in Buffalo, 

mated. T26. 
German Press in Buffalo. 127-133. 
German Printing Association, 132 
German Republican Printing Ass - 

ciation, 133. 
Germans in Politics, 125. 144. 
German^ not Hessians, 1 10. 
German Societies in Buffalo. 133-137. 
German-town. 50. 
German Young Men's Society in 

Buffalo, 134. 
Gerstenhauer, I'd.. 136. 
Ghent, Treaty of, 40 v 
Gilbert Kamily, Narrative of The, 

Gilbert, Mr., 273 

Gillchres, Ira A . :~ | S75, 301. 31 1 
Gilchres, Cap}. William, 301. 
Gil! deck, 412, 4< >• 
( dim in. Miss Mary, 360. 
Guard, Stephen, 192, 
Gaats, Peter (Creek), 1 15. 



Goat Island, 407, 40S. 

Goembel, Rev., 140. 

Goetz, George, 123. 

Gold. Mr., 273, 274. 

Good Peter, an Oneida Indian, 71. 

Goodrich House, The (Buffalo,) 194. 

Gordon, Mr., 90. 

" Gore, The," 41 7. 

Grabau, Rev. John Andreas August, 

Grabau, Rev. \Y., 141. 

Grand Island, 351, 414. 

Grand Niagara (Niagara Falls Vil- 
lage), 409. 

Granger, Era.stus, 425 (n.) 

Granger, Gideon, 289. 

Graves, Quartus, 203. 

Great Britain, 37. 

Greene, William H., 21S in.) 

Greiner, John, 125. 

Grey, Ernst G., 121. 122, 139. 

Greig, John, 2S9. 

Griffis/Rev. \Y. E.. no. 

Griffon, The, 407, 414. 145. 

Giooten Imbogt, The, 47, 102, no. 

Groscurt, W.. 135. 

Gross Rev. Thomas, 211. 

Grossberger. Rev. A. Christian, 141. 

Grosvenor, Abel M., 212. 

Grosvenor, Mrs. Serene, 36S. 

Grotius, 52. 

Gueuther, Rev. E. p., 130. 

Gruener, Carl, 126. 

Gruener's Hotel, 126. 

Gruetzner, Rev. Ed u aid, 142. 

HAAS, Nauert <.\_ Klein, 132. 

Haberstro, Joseph, 123. 

Haberstro, Joseph L., 144. 

Haddock, Mis^ Louisa, 364. 

Haffner, John, 130. 

Hall, Hon. Nathan K., 14S, 151, 208. 

Hall, Mr. (pfOswegn), 23. 

Hannah, The Sloop, 374 398. 

llardenburgh, A! nam, 267. 

Harrison, James (J., 360. 

I larrison, Jonas, 360. 

Hart & Lay, 36S. 

Haskins, R. \\\, 149. 151,205, 210. 

Hatch, Israel T., 202. 
Hatch, Junius H., 251. 
Hathaway, Judge, 260. 
Hauenstein, Dr. John, 125, 134. 
Haven, Solomon G . 208. 

Hawley, Jesse, 26, 190, 227, 231, 
238, 24*1, 242, 243, 244, 246. 247, 
24S, 250, 251, 255, 273, 301, 302, 
30S, 309. 3io, 3^1. 32o, 323, 325, 
327, 337, 342, 343, 344- 34^, 347- 
348, 349, 363- 

Hawley, Merwin S,, 227, 305, 335. 

Hawley, Seth C, 20S. 

Haven's Building, 120. 

Haywood, Billings, 206. 

Heacock, Reuben B., 12, 148. 

HeckeweMer's Narrative, quoted. 

Heilman, Adolphus, 204. 

Heilman, Anton, 136, 

Held, Fred., 130. 


Hennepin, quoted, 401, 40 

407, 414- 
Henry, Alexander, quoted, 410. 
Henry, Mrs. Pauline E.. 106. 
Herbach, D., 64. 
Herkimer, 47, 49, 50. 
Herkimer (Herkemer), Gen., 56. 119 
" Hercules" Essays, (by Jesse Haw 

ley), 190. 243. 246, 252, 273, 308 

310, 312, 325, 327, 330,338. 339 

345. 34 r >. 347. 349- 
Hessian.-, Germans not, 1 19. 
" Hibernicus '* (DeWitt Clinton) 

Letter of, 106, 107. 
Hicks, Thomas, (artist), 224. 226. 
Hirsch, George. 136. 
Iloddick, J., 135. 
Hodge, Benjamin. " Lieut.." 352. 
Hoffman, Lewis ( '.., 214. 
Hoffmeyer, Fr. , 141. 
Hogeboom. Mr. 273. 
Hoiss, George, 123. 
Hoiss, Michael, 123. 
Hoisington, Job, 369, 302. 
Holland Land Company, The. 

123, 187. 18s. 190, 191, I94 

355," 413. 424. 
Holland LHtrchase, The. 186, 

Ilolley. Myron, 9, 31, 148, 25: 

287, 290, 201. 

Hollister Brothers, The, 14^- 
Holzhausen, A., 135. 
Hopkins, Rev. A. 1., 213. 
Hopkins, Caleb. ;,<>;. 
Hopkins. Samuel Miles, :": 
Hopper, Jasper, 344. 34". 3 17 

" IPuu-i.iee.e. I I.e. 19 
Horner. Sally M., 363. 





Hosack, Dr. David. 231, 240, 243. 
244, 269, 270, 271, 2S1, 301, 302, 
313, 318, 323, 342, 343, 346, 35S. 

Hosmer, Rev. George W\, D. D., 

Hough, Edwin, 216. 
Hough's Indian Treaties, quoted, 


Howell, Nathan X. 


Hovt, O. C, 215. 

Hudson, X. Y., 38. 

Hudson River, 4, 17, 18, 19, 20, 38, 

39, 103, 106, n3, 157, 161, 167, 

179, 1S0, 190, 231, 234, 235, 237, 

239, 240, 245, 263, 268, 290, 315, 

Hudzon's (Hudson's) Inn, 48, iot. 
Huis, C, 135. 
Hulbert, Chauncey, 214. 
HulJ, Miss Sarah' E., (Mrs. U. G. 

Steele), 149. 
Hungerford, Benjamin, 377, 376, 

379. 33o. 
Hunt, Dr. Sandford B., 214. 
Hunter, Robert, is: Co., 24. 
Huron, Lake, 249, 396, 396, 401, 

402, 406, 407. 
Hurons, The, 39S, 402. 
Hyde, Rev. Jabez B., 211. 
Hydraulic Canal The, 413, 

ILLINOIS & Michigan Canal. 

Illinois River, 24c). 

Indian Castles, Old, 48, 4<). 

Indian eel-wear (weir), 176. 

Indians taken to England, 300. 

Inland Lock Navigation Co., Nc 
em, 20. 164, 26S, 3K). 

Inland Lock Navigation Co., W 
ern, 109, 157, 167, 234, 235, : 
267, 266, 281, 283, ,287, 288, : 

307. 315, 319. 324. 33 s : 339 
Inland Navigation, X, V., 38, 

Iris Island, 408. 
Irond. quoit Bay, 277. 
Irondequoit Creek, 278, 285. 
Irondequoit Embankment, 271). 
Irondequoit River, 278, 285. 
Irondequoit Valley, 277. 
Irondequot (Bay, River, &c), 

Iroquois, The, 305, 396, 39S, 

Iroquois dialects, 397, 
Islands in Niagara River, 420. 
Island in Oswego River, 87. 





Islands of Xiagara Falls, 407. 
Isle-la-Marinc (Xavy Island 1, 414. 

JACK'S RIETS (Rapids,, 245. 

Jay, John, 47, 50. 

Jefferson, President Thomas, 27, 53, 

245, 265, 279, 280, 300. 
Jemison, Mary (" White Woman"), 

Life of, quoted, 416. 
Jemison, Seneea Interpreter, 225. 
Jerseys, The, 38. 

Jewett, E. K., &, Co., 202, 205. 2 1 4. 
Jewett, Thomas, & Co., 214. 
John Blacksmith <>ee Blacksmith), 

Johnson, Dr. Ebenezer, 12, 14-. 

Johnson, Sir William, 4s, 409, 412. 

414, 415, 419. 421. 
Johnson 1 1 all, 412. 
Jor.caires, The, 404, 405, 410. 
loncaire, Chabert, the younger, 4<>j, 
loncaire, Clau/.onne, 4<h). 
Jones and Parish Tracts, 41 B. 
Jones, Capt. Horatio, 41s. 
Joy. Walter, 12. 
Joy and Webster, 13, 146. 
Judson, Lyman P., 214. 

KAH-KWAS, The. 398, 417. 

Kalamazoo. Mich., 2. 

Kalm, 405. 

Kalteneg-er, A., 136. 

Keinkcder, Jobst, 141. 

Kellogg, A Ivan, 380, 385 

Kenjockety, (Indian family), 41 7- 

Kenjockety Creek, 416. 417. 425. 

Kenjockety, John, 417, 418. 42 1. 

Kenjockety, Philip. 416, 421. 

Kent, James (Chancellor), -- 
294, 295, 

Kequanderaga Rapids, 115. 

Ketchum's History of Buffalo, quo- 
ted, 254. 

Keyser, Abraham. Jr., -'ft 

Kibbe, < George R . 368. 

Kibbe, Isaac, 3 5, 

Kiel, Canal of. -M' 1 - 

Kimberlv, John I... -- 

Kimmer, 1 rank, 141. 

King George's mips i\l^.>. 423 

Kingston, Canada, 359. 

Ki: gston, \. Y . 33, 43. 44. 61, 75 
6 ». 97, 401 . 

Kirk land's MS, Journal ( 1 7S8), quo- 
led, 417, 419. 423. 



Kirkpatrick, Dr. Wm., 273, 2S0, 

297, 300. 
Klump, Christopher, 123. 
Knapp, Mr., 130. 

Know-nothing Party, The, 129, 136. 
Koerner, Gov. Gustav, 125, 126. 
Kohlmann, J., 141. 
Koons & Handel, 13S, 139. 
Kraft, Rev. O. H., 140. 
Krause, Alexander, 131, 209. 
Krech, Karl, 136. 
Kreeh, Gotthard, 136. 
Kreinheder, II. \Y., 141. 
Kressner (see Krettner), Col. Jacob. 
Krettner, Col. lacob, 144. 
Kroll, C, 135- * 
Kuecherer, John, "Water John," 

first German in Buffalo, 119, 122. 

LA CHINK, (Canada), 359. 

Lafayette Guard. The {Buffalo), 143. 

La Fayette, Marquis de, 53. 

La Hontan, The Baron. 421. 

Lake Erie, Rapids of, 420. 

Lake Region, First notice of, 395, 

L'Allemant, Father, 401. 
LaMotte, 401. 
Landon, Joseph, 360. 
Landon's Tavern, 367. 
Langdon, Fouchette and Schaefer, 

Langner, John G., 141. 
Languedoc, Canal of, 40, 232, 246, 

Lansing, Abraham, 99. 
Lansing, Fir^t Judge, 99. 
Lansing's Mill, 169, 171, 179. 
Lapp, Christian, 139. 
" La Riviere aux bois blanc," 416. 
La Salle, Sieur de, 401, 402, 403. 

405 (n.), 415. 
La Salle, Village of, 415. 
Las Casas, 362. 
Lai robe, Henry, 303, 312. 
Lautz, A., 135. 
Lautz. F., 135. 
La/.elle, John A., 206. 
La Couteulx, Mons. Alphonse de, 

Lee, Dr. Daniel, 202, 205, 209. 
Lee, Gen. Henry, 239, 240, 317, 

321, 338. 
Leibnitz on Subterranean Salt, 65. 
Lescarbot. 31)5 (n.), 396. 
Lewis, Dr. M. G., 21 s. 

Lewis, Col. (Attorney General, N. 

V.), 99- 
Lewis, Col., an Oneida Indian, 70, 79. 
Lewis, Gov. Morgan, 236, 270, 31 r, 

3i6, 317. 
Lewiston, N. V., 21, 22,23,25,251, 

285, 410. 
Lewiston Ridge, The, 404. 
L'Home (Homme) Dieu's Tract, S6, 

Liancourt, Duke of, 419.420. 

" Liancourt, Voyage par," 420. 

Liedertafel, The Buffalo. 135. 

Liesenhoff, A., 136. 

Lincklaen, 100, 112. 

Little Falls, 20, 21. 39, 166, 167, 

172, 26S. 
Little Foil (Fort Schlosser), 409. 
Little Niagara (Fort Schlosserl, 409. 
Livingston, Alb 10 & Co., 203. 
Livingston, Broekholst, 307, 310. 
Livingston. Edward P., 2S1. 

Livingston family, The, 45. 

Livingston, Miss IL, 54. 
Livingston, Robert R. (Chancellor), 

29. 44- 53. 55. 288, 
Locke (Summer Hill), Cayuga Co., 

Lockport, 25, 251, 309. 
Lodi, Frie Co., (Gowanda), 216, 

352 (n.) 
Log Cabin, The, in Buffalo, 352 in.) 
Long, George, 123. 
Lord, Rev. John C, D. I).. 213. 
Loskiel's Missions, quoted, 4<>o. 
Louisville, Kentucky, 250. 
Love, Judge Thomas C, 12. 14S. 
Lovejoy, Henry, II, 14S. 
Luher, Fri, 24. 

Lutherans, The Old, in Buffalo. 126. 
Lyceum, The Buffalo, 153, 213. 
" Lynch, Judge," 413- 

MABEL'S, 102. 
McArthur's Garden, 352 (11.) 
McCredie, William. 203. 
McInto>h, Mrs. Caroline, 3S7. 
McKown, James, 251. 
McNair. Mat hew. 21. 
McNiel. Gen.. 251, 324. 
McWhorter, John, 272. 343. 
Madam de Stael. 314. 31*). 
Madison, President James, 254. 258. 
Maer/, Rev. Johannes, 138. 
Manchester (Niagara Falls Village), 



Manchester, Bradford A., 201, 202, 
203, 210. 

Manchester and Bray man, 210. 

Mancius, Dr. (see Marcius), 102. 

Manhattan Island, iS. 

Mann's Mills, 2S5. 

Manufactures, Value of, 36. 

Mappa, Col. Adam G., 33, 53, 59, 
106, 108, iog, 112. 

Marcius, Dr., of Albany (see Man- 
cius), 46, 102. 

Marcy, Gov. William L., 27. 

Marie. J., 131. 

Marshall, Mrs. Dr. John E., 3S9. 

Marshall, Orsamus II., 3S9, 395. 

Martin's Corners, 424. 

Massachusetts, 2, 30, 38. 

Maude, The Traveler, 410, 

Mathews, a drummer, 411. 

Mathews, Sylvester, 364. 

Maumee River, The, 249. 

Maynard, E. A., 199. 

Mayo, Maria D., 361. 

Mechanics' and Apprentices' Society 
(Buffalo), 153. 

Mercer, Lieut. -Col., 111. 

Merritt's MS., 422. 

Mesmer, Michael, 123. 

Messmer, Rev., 132. 

Metzger, George, 123. 

Meuze River (Holland), 64, 72, 75, 

Mexico, N. V., Town of, 275, 320, 
326, 341. 

Meyer, Adolphus, 20(). 

Meyer, John M., 131. 

Meyerhoffer, Carl, 13S. 

Meyerhoffer, Philip, 121. 

Miami of the Lakesi Maumee River), 

Michaelis on the Ten Tribes. 52. 
Michaux. the Naturalist, 422. 
Michigan, Lake, 249, 328. 
Michigan, The Schooner, 374. 
Mile Strip, The, 21, 4' s - 
Military Tract (lands) The, 62, 63, 

86, 269, 375. 376. 385. 
Millard, Phebe, 375- 
Miller and Bender, 131. 
Miller, II. B., 131. 204. 
Milwaukee. 328. 
Miner. Dr. Julius K., 214. 
Minnow of Niagara River, The, 370. 
Mischka, [oseph, 135. 
Mississauga (Ojibway) Indians. 414. 
Mississauca I'oint, 405. 

i Mississippi and India Company, The. 

1 12. 

Mississippi River, The, 249, 318.424. 

, Mitchell, Samuel, 35^. 

j Moeser, Wilhelm, 136. 

j Mohawk River, iS, 19, 20, 21, 3S. 
39. 45. 47. 48, 49. 5i. 58, 62. 66, 
76, roi, in. 158, 159, 161, l6«, 

167, 169, I73, I74, I75. I79, 225, 
232, 233, 234, 235, 239, 245. 24^., 
247, 25S, 303, 315, 321. 

[ Mohawks, The, 402, 422. 

Mohawk Valley Germans, 119. 
i Monroe, President Jame«>, at Buf- 
falo, 366, 367. 

Monroe, Mich., 369. 
I Montcalm, Gen., in. 
I Mente/.uma, N. V., 272, 369. 
] Montreal, 22s, 236, 315. 395. 

Montvillc, N. V., 383, 3S5. 

Moore, Sir Henry, 231, 232, 260. 

I 333. 

I Moore's Travels, 33. 

i Moravia, N. V., 3S7. 

Morgan, Colonel, 205. 
! Morris, a land surveyor,(Goaverneur?) 
j 100. 
I Morris, Gouverneur, 26, 27, 28. 2o, 

(100), 231, 236, 23S, 230. 24". 

241, 242, 243, 252, 254. 256, : .. 

270, 2S2, 283, 284, 285. 286. B87, 

289, 290, 296, 297, 298, 299, 300. 

301, 302. 303. 304, 310. 311. 312, 

313. 3U. 315. 3*6. 317. 318 
320, 321, 322. 323, 324, 325. 326, 
327. 330. 337. 388, 340. 342. 343. 
344. 345, 3-19- 

Morris, Gouverneur, Jr.. 3 . 

Morris, Robert, 314. 

Morristown, N. I.. J87. 

Mosely, Dr., 56." 

Mosquito; in the "Western 1>U- 
trict," 68. 
• •' Mound-Builders, The." 397. 

Mounds, etc, in Western New York. 

Mud Creek. 245. 252. 176, 277. 2-4. 

Mount \ ernon, 45- 
Muehlenberg, Kriede rich August.! 19. 

Mueller. C. F. W., 135. 
Muskelunge, THe, (a fish), 4»" 

Mynder*C, Col.. 243. 244. 343- 
Mynderse's Mills, 241. 

NANC\ . The Sloop iN; 

. ■ <■•., II— 



Nauert, Hansman & Co., 131. 

Nauert, Heinrich, 136. 

"Navy Hall," 405. 

Navy Island, 414. 

Necker, M., 314. 

Neidhardt. Karl, 134. 

Neutral Nation, 398, 399, 400, 401, 

New Amsterdam (Buffalo), 423, 

Newark (Niagara Village), 40^. 
Newburg on the Hudson, 317. 
Newcomb, Harvey, 201. 
New Connecticut, 7. 
Newell. Thomas, 20S. 
New England, 35, 33, 4T, 46. 
New England Men, 41, 42. 
New Hampshire, 38. 
Newhope, 376. 
New Jersey, 30, 405. 
Newland, Abigail, 387. 
New York, City of, 3', 5, 15, 3S, 39, 

40, 226, 328, 329, 330. 
New York, State of, 2, 30, 36. 38, 

Niagara, 65, S6, 99. 
Niagara County (old), 352. 
Niagara Falls, 30, 1S5, 232, 235, 

236, 237, 239, 242, 244. 268, 2S5, 
304, 313, 315, 319. 320, 322, 324, 
341, 365, 402, 4^06, 408, 409, 419. 

Niagara Ship Caual Company, 235, 

237, 26S, 313, 315. 

Niagara Frontier, The, 395, 400. 
Niagara, Names of, 401, 402. 
Niagara, Rapids of, 421. 
Niagara River, 4, 9, iS, 21, 22, 237, 
245, 270. 2S4, 315, 351, 362, 39S, 

,399. 403. 423- 

Niagara Ship Canal, 250, 268, 338, 
340, 344- 

Niagara, The Sloop (Nancy), 415. 

Niagara Square. Buffalo, 4. 

Niagara Village (Butler>bury, New- 
ark), 405. 

Nicholas, John, 2S9. 

Nichols, Thomas L., 20S, 209. 

Niewer Sluys, The. 40, no. 

Niles, X. Y.. Town of (formerly 
Sempronius), 376. 

Nine-Mile Point, 95, 115. 

Nonville, Marquis de, 399, 403. 

Noord-kerk, of Amsterdam, lOI. 

"North American Sylva, The," 
quoted, 423. 

North Germans in Buffalo, 124. 

North River (HiuUon), 38, 46, 62, 66. 
North, Gen. William, 252, 282, 283, 

Norton, Charles I)., 419. 
Number 8 School-house, Buffalo, 

Visit of President Van Buren to, 

Nunda, 421. 
Nuno, Sig. J., 135. 

OAK ORCHARD, 63, 100. 
I Oak Orchard Creek, 191, 279. 
i O'Callaghan, Dr., 401 (n.) 

Ohio, 30. 
I Ohio Canal, 309. 
i Ohio River, 397. 

Ohio River, Falls of, 309. 

Ohio River, Rapids in, 250. 

Ojibway Indians, 414. 

Olden Barneveld (Trenton Village), 
106, 107, 112. 

"Old Ferry," The, 419. 
I Old French Landing, 413. 
J Old Mess-House, The, 404. 

Old Settlers' Association (Buffalo), 

! 155. 

' Old Smoke, Seneca Indian Chief, 
i 412. 

! Olmstead, Charles G., 365. 
I Oneida Creek, 63, 70, 99, 1 1 2. 
! Oneida Indians, 51, 56, 70, 72, 97. 
Oneida Lake, 20, 40, 45, 58, 61, 62, 
63, 64. 65, 66, 69, 76, 77, S4, 95, 
9S, 109, 112, 113, 114, 163, 175. 
176, 17S, 1S0, 231, 232, 235, 239, 
292, 302, 303, 315, 319, 320, 321. 
326, 341, 365. 
Oneida Outlet. 112. 
Oneida Reservation, 62. 
Oneida River, (formerly *o called). 

235. 239, 302. 315. 321. 
Oneida River, The present, 112, 315. 
! Oneidas, The. So, 163, 
i Q/Xeil, Capt. Richard, 415. 
- Onondaga (Onondago), 58, 65, 36. 
1 242, 273, 275, 289, 300, 323, 343. 

344- 345- 

: Onondaga (or Oswego) Falls, 115. 
Onondaga Hill, -M'). 

j Onondaga Hollow, 345, 346, 348. 

I Ouondaga Indians, 70, 87, 90, 424. 

I Onondaga (Salt) Lake, 65, 115. ! >_\ 

I Onondaga River, 30. 47- °-. ( ; v; 
86, 87, <>7. 1 11. [12, 113, 161, 
163, 176, 177, 178, 232, 234, 266, 

*02, 303, 321, 122, 230, 34U 



Onondaga Salt Springs, 300. 

Ontario Canal route, The, 233, 252, 
253, 254, 341, 342, 344. 

Ontario Country, The, 19. 
. Ontario (St. Louis) Lake, iS, 19, 23, 
30, 33, 39, 40, 62, 63, 64, 65, 84, 
S6, 90, 106, 112, 115, 161, 177, 
17S, 185, 22S, 229, 232, 234, 235, 
2 3°» 237, 239, 240, 266, 265, 269, 
304, 313, 315, 319, 320, 321, 322, 
324, 326, 327, 365, 396, 402. 

Oothout, Steuben, 63. 

Orendorfl's Rift (Rapid), 172, 173. 

Oriskany, Battle of, 119. 

Oriskany Creek, 56, 104. 

Osborn, Stephen, " Lieut." 352. 

Oswego, 18, 19, 22, 23, 24, S6, 87, 
S3, 109, in, 177, 234, 235, 239, 
284, 303, 313, 315, 320, 326, 339. 

Oswego (or Onondaga) Falls, The, 

22, 36, 88, 115, 177, 26S. 
Oswego, Fortifications at, 89. 
Oswego River, The, 20, 39, 47, 62, 

63, 86, 87, 97, in, 112, 228, 229, 

232, 239, 263, 321, 341, 365. 
Otsego Lake, 233. 
Ottawa River Improvement, 332. 
Otzagert, Peter, 53. 
Outer Lot No. 104, Buffalo, 193, 197. 

['AG AY (Pogay), 76. 95. 
Palatines in New York and I 

sylvan ia, 1 19. 
Palatine-Town, 48. 
Palmer, George, 150. 
Palmyra, 276. 
Paris, (France,) 6, 7, 12. 
Parish, Capt. Jasper, 418. 
Parish, David, 107. 
Parish, John, 237, 270, 304, 

312, 313, 314, 317, 3i>. 322, 

33S. 342. 
Park, Alderman (Buffalo,) 142. 
Patriot forces, The, 414. 
Patriot War, The. 143, 153, 20: 
Pax, Rev., 13S. 
Peacock, Judge William, 291. 
Peck, Edward, 199. 
Peet, Rev. Stephen, 213. 
Pendleton Village, 355. 
Pcnrield, Henry F., 418. 
Pennsylvania, 35, 42. 
Pennsylvania Dutchman, in), 
Pennsylvania (Canastogal wag 

24. ' 



Penn^ylvaniaus 35, 41. 
Perry Monument (propo>ed>, 14. 
Peter Gaats Creek, 115. 
Peter-, T. C, 201. 
Pfeifer, 123. 

Pfeiffer, Ceorge F., 134. 
, Philadelphia, 4, 19, 315. 

Philips' (Capt.) Improvement, 63. 

Physiognomy of Buffalo, 1, 147. 

Piutard, John. 2--. 

Pittsburgh, Pa.. 244. 

Plan of Buffalo Village, 186. 

Piatt, Jonas. 28, 29. 51, 54, 55, iqi, 

no. 231, 252. 255, 259, 2 ; i. 283, 

2S3, 294. 295. 
Piatt, Mrs. Jonas 35- 
Piatt, Judge Zephaniah, 54. 
Plymouth, Mass . 15. 
Pogay, <ee " Pagay." 
Pohlman, Ch., 141. 
Point Pleasant (Niagara River, 41;. 
Pollard, Captain (Chief), 424. 
Pope. Senator, 253. 
Popilius, Caius, no. 
Portage around Niagara Falls 

23. 404- 
Portage Company (at Niagara Falls), 

34 1- 
Portage Road, The, 412. 
Porter, Hon. A. S., letter quoted, 

413 (n.) 
Porter, Judge Augustus, 21, 307, 

408 in*.), 413. 417. 
Porter, Barton & Co., 21, 22, 23. 24, 

40S, 415. 
Porter, Gen. Peter P.. S, 9, 21, 24, 

28, 148, 215, 252, 253. 2S2, 2S4, 

290. 291, 408 in.) 
Post, John (Hansje), 51. ior, 174. 
Post, Dr. (New Vork), 195. 
Potter. Cen. Heman P., 12. 14^, 


Potter, Nathaniel. Jr., 212. 
Pouchot, quoted. 414. 
1 Poughkeep |-«.ie). 55. 

Powers Miss Abigail, 387, 

Powers, Lemuel, $7, 

Pownall, George (map of), 02. 

Pratt, Samuel. 12. 

Pratt, Samuel F.. 130. 

Pratt & d\, 14S 

Presbytery o( Buffalo. 211. 

Presbytery oi Niagara. 364. 

Price. Mr. a British Interpreter, pO, 

01. 92, 93. 
Prime. Ward & Sam!-. 163. 



Prussian Germans in Buffalo, 124. 
Putnam's (Putman's) on Trip's Hill, 
48, 102. 

QUEBEC, 65, 22S, 36S. 
Queenston, Canada, 406. 

RAFFEIX (Jesuit Missionary), 403. 

Rageneau, Father, 406. 

Raisin River, 369. 

Rawson, Dr. Thomas H., 34S. 

Redfield, L. H., 109. 

Red Jacket (Sa-go-ye-wat-ha), 196, 
218, 221, 417, 424. 

Reed, Henry, Jr., 209. 

Reed, Capt. Jacob, 53, 54, 70. 

Reinecke & Storck, 131. 

Reinecke & Zesch, 131. 

Reinecke, Fred., 131. 

Reinecke, Zesch & Baltz, 131. 

Reservoir, The Buffalo, 4. 

Rhine River, 64, I09r 

Rice, Asa, 3S4. 

Rich, Andrew, J., 360. 

Rich, Charles Townsend, 360. 

Richardson, Mr., 176. 

Richardson, Judge, 260. 

Ridtau River, 359. 

Ridge Road, The, 285. 

Riebling, Martin, 130. 

Riley, Major-General Bennett, 363. 

River Raisin, Settlement at, 369. 

Roberts, Col. Elijah J., 205, 207. 

Roberts, John, 141. 

Robie, Rev. John A., 200. 

Robinson, Wm. E., 203. 

Rochester. Judge Wm. B., 259. 

Rochester, N. V., 200, 2S5. 

Rome, X. V. (see Fort Stanwix and 
Fort Schuyler,) iS, 32, 109, 239, 
260, 263, 266, 2S3, 2S4, 287, 312, 

Rome Summit, The, 276. 

Romeyn, Rev. Dirck, 47, 102, no. 

Romeyn, Mrs. Dirck, 102. 

Roos, Jacob, 122. 

Roosevelt & Co., John and Nicho- 
las, 113. 

Roosevelt's Tract, 45. 

Root, Era>.tus, 251. 

Roth's Hall (Buffalo), 13O. 

Rotterdam, 178. 

Royal American Regiment, 410. 

Royal Blockhouse, 175, 170. 

Ro/enkrant/. (Rosekrantz), Rev., 50, 
sr, 101. 

Rudolph, Wilhelin, 134. 
Rusch, Friederich, 123. 
Rusch, Sebastian, 123. 
Russell, Samuel, 360. 

SACKETT'S Harbor. 23, 361, 367. 
Salina, 273, 300, 301. 
Salisbury & Manchester, 201. 
Salisbury, Foote ^ Co., 202. 
Salisbury, Guy H., 199, 201, 202, 

Salisbury, He/ekiah A., 201, 210, 

Salisbury, Smith H., 201, 202, 21;. 
Salmon Creek (The Great or Big), 

62, 63, 65, 78, 93, 112, 115. 178. 
Salmon Creek (The Little), ?>3, 92, 

Salmon River (Large), 63, 64, 90, 

116, 320, 321. 
Salmon River (Smaller). 63, 64. 
Salt Lake (Onondaga;, 65, 115. 
Salt Springs in New York, 65, 271, 

272, 300. 
San Francisco, 15, 330. 
Sanson's Map of Canada, 402. 
Sautser, John, 141. 
Sax, Hans, in "The Imbogt," 103. 
Scawyau (Great), 177. 
Scawyau (Little), 177. 
Schenkelberger, Jacob, 143. 


3. 39- 45 

47. 59, 102, 157, 159, 160, 161, 
162, 167, 168, 171, 172, 179, 180, 
232, 23S, 267, 26S. 209, 263, 315, 
319, 320, 321, 33S, 342. 343. 

Schen/in, Jacob, 122. 

Schelle, Rev. Frederick, 140. 

Scheu, Solomon, 144. 

Scheu, Major William. 144. 

Sehlagder, Adam, 134. 

Schlosser, 17, iS, 21, 22, 23, 410. 

Schlosser, Fort (see F»>rt Schlosser.) 

Schlosser, Capt. Joseph, 400, 4m. 

Schmidt. Christopher, 143. 

Schoharie, 47, 251. 

Schoharie Creek, 162. 172, 179, 

Schoharie Valley German>. 119. 

Schoolcraft. 407. 

School-hou>e No. 8 (Buffalo), 152. 

Schoonhoven (Holland), 04. 

Schoon maker. Capt. H end rick. 103. 

Schornstein, Rev. I.., 140. 

Schultz, Ern>t. 135. 

Schuyler Familv, The, 45. 



Schuyler, Philip (Col. and Gen.), 20, 
166, 167, 171, 231, 234, 235, 236, 
267, 270, 30S, 316. 
Schuyler, Widow of Gen. Philip, 46, 

48,' ior. 
Schuylkill River, 19. 
Scott Village, 38 r. 
Scott, Maj.-Gen. Winfield, 153, 361. 
Second River, The(TheHttdson),34. 
Seelye, 391. 

Selling the Erie Canal, 334. 
Sempronius, Old Town of (now 

Xiles, New York), 376. 

Senecas, The, 266, 39S, 399, 400, 

401, 403, 404, 405, 411, 414, 415, 

416, 417, 420, 421, 422, 423, 224. 

Seneca Lake, 115, 176, 234, 235, 

26S, 271, 284. 
Seneca Language, 212. 
Seneca Outlet, 287. 
Seneca Reservation, 417, 418. 
Seneca River, The. 32, 47, 62, 86, 
112, 115. i6r, 163, 176, 232, 245, 
258, 266, 276, 278, 28 \, 290, 291, 
295. 392, 303, 326. 
Seneca Valley, 2S6. 
Seneca White (Chief), 397. 
Sentell. Charles, 206. 
Sergeant, Mr., 259. 
Seward, Gov. William 1L, 26, 27, 

29, 304, 312. 
Seymour, Henry, 9, 148. 
Sheldon, lion. James. 206, 357. 
Sheldon, Thompson ec Co., 14S. 
Sherman, Isaac, 224. 
Siebold, Jacob, second German in 

Buffalo* 120, 122, 139. 
Sill. Deloss E., 215. 
Sill, Thompson & Co., 24. 
Simcoe, Lieut. -Gov., 405, 414 (n.) 
Simonds, Capt., 64, 85', 97. 
Singer, 123. 
Six-Mile Creek (on Niagara River), 

Six Nations, '1 he, 62. 
Si/er, Mrs. Thomas J., ioS. 
Skanea teles Poke, 381. 
Skeensborough, Palls at, 164. 24.). 
Sloan, Capt. James, 22. 
Smith, Henry K., 148, 202. 
Smith, Isaac S., 207. 
Smith, Jeffrey, 231, 234, 207. 
Smith & Macy, 148. 
Smuggler's Run, 418. 
Snow, William S., 202. 
Sol. Ian. Rev. Carl P., 140. 

Sorg, Rev. Joseph M., 133, 138. 

South Bay, 249. 

South Germans in Buffalo, 123. 

South Sea Mania. 13. 

Sparta, N. V., 37S. 

Spaulding, E. W., 214. 

Speculation Mania, The. 12. 

Spit/nagel, Gustav, 136. 

Spraguc, Noah P., 14s, 151. 

Squaw Island, 417, 418. 

Staats, Mr., and his " Location" or 

"Purchase," S5, 86, 114. 
Stael. Madame de, 314. 319. 
Stagg ec Cadwallader, 205. 
Stagg. Dr. Henry R., 205. 
Staringh, Co!., 50. 
Stark, M., 135. 
Starr, George N.. 215. 
State Portage at Niagara Falls, 23. 
State Reservation at Oswego Falls, 


Steadman (Sec Stedman.) 

Steamboats, Early, in Buffalo, 147. 

Stedman, 408. 410. 

"Stedman Claim," The, 411. 412. 

Stedman Farm, The, 2r. 

Stedman House, The, 412. 

Stedman, John, 410, 411. 

Stedman, Philip, 410. 

Sted man's Creek (Gill Creeki, 413. 

Stedman's Improvements, 410. 

Stedman. William. 410. 

"Steele's Bookstore," 149. 

Steele, Horace, 206. 

Steele, Oliver G.. 5. 14?, 149, 152. 
153. 154, 155, 21 S. 2 20. 

Steene-Kamer (Stone Chamber), 72. 

Steuben Guard. The Buffalo, M3- 

Stevens, fames M., 300. 

Stevens, Mr. (of Fort Brewertoo), 64. 

Stillwater, 164. 

Stimnson, N. R., 208. 

"Stone Chamber," The | Steene- 
Kamer), 72. 

Stone, Rev. Randolph, 212. 

Stone. William P.. 257. 

Stone's Pife oi Red Jacket, »5 

Stringham, Joseph, 203. 

Stringham. Manchester & Brayman, 

Str.-ng. Judge Oliver R.. 399, 311. 

Stryker, James, 202. 
Stuyvesant, 78. 

St. James' Had. Buffalo, »lS. 
St. Lawrence, Gulf of, 305. 4 , > <, 



St. Lawrence River, iS, 23, 38, 39, 
62" 228, 229, 239, 256, 263, 315, 
318, 396. 

St. Louis. City of, 32S. 

St. Louis, Lake (Ontario), 402. 

Sainte Marie (Mission Station), 249, 
309, 401. 

Sainte Marie, Straits of, 249. 

St. Molitor, 129. 

Sullivan, General, 400. 

Sullivan's Expedition, 400, 421. 

Sulphur Springs (near Buffalo), 139. 

Summer Hill (formerly Locke), 375. 

Suor, Joseph, 123. 

Superior, Lake, 249, 309. 

Suspension Bridge, Lower, 406. 

Susquehanna River, The, 19, 233, 

Sutherland, Thomas Jefferson, 210. 
Swartwout, John, 288. 
Syracuse, 324. 

TABLE ROCK (at Niagara Falls), 

373, 407. 
"Tacitus," now tie phone of author ' 

of N. V. Canal Policy, 240, 243. 
"Tapping Lake Erie," 26, etc. 
Taverns, Old, in New York State, 1 

Tayler, Lieut. -Gov. John, 259. 294, 

" Te Deum," The, 401. 
Tennessee, 301. 
Terrace in Buffalo, 192. 
Thiesfeld, Ernst, 141. 
Thomas, C. F. S.. 20S. 
Thompson, Chief justice, 259, 294. ! 


Thompson, Edward II., 207. 
Thompson, Sheldon, 23. 
" Three Mountains," The, 405. 
Three-River Point (Three Rivers), ; 

20, 47, S6, S7, 97, 112, 115, 117, J 

284, 302, 303, 321, 340. 
Three-River Rift '(Rapid), 115. 
Tibbitts, George, 259, 296. 
Ticonderoga, 270. 
Tifft Farm, 417. 
Tigress, Schooner, 36S. 
Toledo, Ohio, 32S. 
Tompkins, Daniel D.. Gov. New J 

York, and \ ice-l're>., U. S.. 27, j 

31, 253, 257, 259, 204. 360. 
Tonawanda Creek, 191, 245. 274, | 

275, 279. 285, 291, 303, 320, 341, j 

355, 416, 422. 

Tonawanda Island, 398, 416. 

Tonawanda Reservation, 416. 

Tonawanda Summit, The, 279. 

Tonawanda Swamp, The, 196, 27S, 

Tonawanda \ alley, The, 279. 

Tonnage of Merchant Shipping own- 
ed in Buffalo, in 1S1S, 374. 

Tonti, 403. 

Townsend & Coit, 14S, 368. 

Townsend Block, 149. 

Townsend, Bronson & Co., 23, 24. 

Townsend, Charles, If, 12, 148, 360. 

Townsend, Jacob, 23. 

Tracy, Albert FL, 12, 14S, 360. 

Trees in the " Western District," 

Trenton Village, 106, 109. 

Trip's Hill, 48, 102. 

Troup, Col. Robert, 289, 307, 310. 

Troy City, 169, 179, 180. 

Turner, Elder A., 390. 

Turner's "Holland Purchase," 418. 

Turners, The, 136. 

Turners' National Convention. 136. 

Turn Hall (Buffalo). 137. 

Turnverein, 135, 136. 

Tuttle, 211. 

Two-Mile Pond (French Landing), 

" Typheus," 93, 112. 

ULBRICH, Otto, 135. 
Union, The Brig, 374. 
"Union Ticket" (Canal), 343. 
Unitarian Church, Buffalo, 153. 
Universalis Church, Buffalo. 150. 
University of Western New York, 

(proposed), 14. 
Urban, George, 123. 
Usher, Mr., 173. 
Utica (Sec Old Fort Schuyler), 18, 

51, 101, io«), in, 245, 247. 289, 

343. 344. 348. 

I I 






an Buren, 






an Cortland 


y, Th 

e, 45- 



, 171. 



Francis At 


D., 33, io( 




Mrs. 1 

'. A., 



103, 106, 

Ma jo 

- Jol 

n J 





, 106, 



s, 303. 


1 , ■ .■■■ «» . 

— - 


Van Rensselaer Family, The, 45. 
Van Rensselaer, K. K., 317. 
Van Rensselaer, Col. J. Rutsen, 258, 

Van Rensselaer, Gen. Stephen, 9, 
28, 31, 148, 252, 256, 257, 282, 
283, 2S5, 290. 

Van Vechten, 2S2. 

Veeder's, Simon, 4S, 102. 

Venango, 414. 

Vermont, 30. 

Verrinder, William, 213. 

Victor, N. Y., 400, 403. 

Virginia, 2. 

Von Puttkammer, Alexander, 141. 

Voss, C, 135. 

Vogt, Rev. George S., 140. 

Volz, Rev. Christian, 139. 

WABASH Canal, 309. 
Wabash River. 249. 
Wadsworths, The, 40S. 
Walker, John S.. 209. 
Walk-in-the-Water, The, 372. 
Walton & DeGraff, 24. 
Walton, Jonathan, 23. 
Walton. Jonathan, & Co., 22. 
Ward, F.' E-., & Co., 20S. 
Ward, John, 226 In.) 
Ward, Richard R.. 226 (n.) 
Ward, Samuel, 224. 
Ware, Jesse, 4T0, 413. 
Washington, ( i»eneral George, 8, iS 

45, 1S5, 231, 233, 333, 371, 400 
Washington, City of, 5, 1S5, 317. 
Waterford, 164, 169, 179, 1S0, 240 
" Water John" (see Kueeherer), 119 
Watson, Flkanah. 19, 20, 231, 235 

243, 267. 307, 310. 323, 337, 348 
Wattines, Des, a Frenchman, Si, S2 

83, 84, 97, 98, 90, 101, 112. 114 
Wattines, Des, Madame, Si, <.)~, 98 

Weber, Hermann, 136. 
Webster, George Ik, 12. 
Weil, Jacob, 137. 
Weir, R. W., artist, 218 (n.), 224, 

225, 226. 
Weiss, Dr., 126. 
Welland Canal, 332. 
Wen/, James, 137. 
"Western District (Region)," The, 

41, 44, 58, 60, S7, 106. 107, 109. 
" Western or File Canal," 362, 
West Niagara, Niagara Village, 405. 

300, 311 

5«. 54. i f ;i 


Weston, William, engineer. [6l 

164, 167, 17S, 179, 235, 267, 268 

2S6, 2S9, 292, 308. 
Wheeler, Thomas, 27 
Wheeler. Kufus, 203. 
Whirlpool, The, 406. 
Whitesborough, 51, 55, 56. 101 
White's Corner.^ 417. 
White, Henry, 203. 
White, Judge Hugh 

1 10. 
White, Seneca ("Seneca White 
White's Landing, 174. 
White's-Town, 55, 58, 65, 104. 
"White Woman," The, 424. 
Wickliam, Capt., 89, 95. 
Wieckmann, C., 133. 
Wiedrich, Michael. 143. 
Wilgus, A. W., 209. 
Wilgus, Nathaniel. 351. 
Wilgus, William, 363. 
Wilke^on & Beal>, 148. 
Wilkeson, Judge Samuel, 9, 10. n, 

12, 147, "148, 360. 
Welland River (Chippewa Creek), 

Wilier, Col., 57. 

Williams, Flisha, 2*9, 2q^. 386. 
Williams, W 15., 214. 
Williams, William, 148. 
Wilson, Dr. l'cter. 425. 
Wisconsin River, 249. 
Wiser, II., 135. 
! Wolf Rift (Rapid), 17;. 
I Wood Creek, 19, 20, 21. 39, 58, 50. 

60, 01. 62. 65, 60, 72. 99, 100, in, 
161, 162, 174. 
235, 260, 318, 


112, 113. 114. 

17^. 179, 233, 

Wood Creek. Northern. 157, 164. 
Wood, Judge Walter. 383, 3S4. 385. 
Wood, Win. V. M., :■ >:. 215. 
Wright. Rev. Asher, 213. 
j Wright, Judge Benjamin, 32. 2;- 

2 39. '-5C 2 ^7- 29O1 291, 20:. 2 )-.. 

310. 324. 325. 348. 
1 Wunderlin, A.. 135. 

Wyoming Massacre, 400, 405. 

1 YATES, Governor, 110. 

Yates, Judge, 250, 204. 205. 
• \'ork (Toronto), Canada, 359. 

York (England), o. 
■ Young & Vogt, 131 . 

Young King. 424. 

Younc. Colonel Willi. un C. 12. 


Young Men's xA.ssoc'n, Bufialo, 153. 
Young, Samuel, 9, 31, 148, 256, 257, 

260, 290, 291. 
Yssel River, (Holland,) 40, 109. 

ZAHM, George, 129, 130, 204. 
Zahm, Jacob M., 204. 
Zahn, Capt. George, 143. 
Zimmerman, Rev. Dr. G. A., 140. 



Attiouandaronk, 398. 

Chenondac, 414. 

De-ji/j'-non-da-weh-ho//', 425. 
De-dyo'-we-n<? -guh-dfh, 418. 
Det-ga//-ski>h-ses, 407. 
Do'-syo-wJ, 400, 423. 
Du/*'-jih-he//'-<?h, 405. 
Dyos-d<7/7/£'-ga-e//, 419. 
Dyos-d<?-o-do//, 419. 
Dyu-n^'-wrt-da-se', 406. 
Dyus-dtf'-nya//-g<?h, 406. 

Gai-gwaa//-ge//, 402, 420. 
G«-n//s-squa//, 411. 
Ga-noh'-£wa-6t-geh, 416. 
Ga-tf'-wa//-go-Avaa//, 414. 

Hochelaga, 395. ' 

Jagara, 266. 
Je-nis'-hi-yuh, 400. 

Kakouagoga, 398 (n.) 

Maskinongez, 416. 

Ni-ga'-we-na^'-tf-tfh, 416. 
Nya//'-gaa//, 402. 
Nyah'-ga-ra// , 402. 

0-ga//'-gwaa//, 416. 
O-gaA'-gwaaA'-gch, 416. 
Ongiara, 402. 
On-gui-aah-ra, 401, 402. 

Sa-go-ye-\vat-ha, frontispiece, 


Scaugh-juh-quatty, 417. 
Sg</-dyuh'-gwa-dih, 417. 
Skendyoughgwatti, 417. 
So-wak, 416. 

Tegarondies, 403. 
Ta-m> '-wan -de//, 416. 


The key lo tlte pronunciation of these n ill l>e found at j^e 4 •(>. 

ii ■ i iligiw 



President, F.I. IAS S. IIAWLEV. 

Vice-President, HON. JAMES M. SMITH. 

Recording Secretary, . . DR. LEON F. HARVEY. 

Corresponding Secretary, j 

Librarian, - . . REV. ALBERT BIGELOW 

Treasurer, ) 


Warren Bryant, Thomas B. Fhkxcii, \V. h. II. Newman, 

Rev. A. T. Chester, D.D., William Hodge, Alonzo Richmond. 
Capt. E. P. Dorr, O. II. Marshall, H«>n. James Sheldon. 

( o. II. Marshall, 
Publication Committee, - Rev. A. T. CHESTER, D. I>. 


The Society's Publication^ are edited by the Corresponding Secretary. 


In this volume, papers concerning Buffalo occupy less space 
than in the first; the whole number of articles being less, and 
averaging a greater length. 

One subject, the "Origin of the Erie Canal," might appear 
to have inordinately extended treatment; and the Journal of 
Dr. Vanderkemp and Reports of the Inland Lock Navigation 
Companies, to be of remoter interest than is desirable in the 
collections of the Buffalo Historical Society. Yet it would 
seem that enough of this class of materials, to furnish a suit- 
able setting for the more special articles upon Buffalo, should 
have admission, so that the present generation may be re- 
minded of the days when this place " was not," and of the 
things done in the olden time to make Buffalo a necessity and 
a fact. Especially is this the case in regard to the truly vital 
subject of the process by which direct water communication 
was opened between the Hudson River and Lake Erie. It is 
for this reason, and no: on account of any lackof materials for 
a strictly "Buffalo" volume, that the contents of this one are 
what they are. The difficulty of selecting from the plentiful 
matter on hand, has been almost as great as in preparing the 
former volume. 

In the Erie Canal papers there is much repetition; yet jus- 
tice could not be done so them by any abbreviation; and each, 
if printed at all, was emitted to stand complete in itselt. 


The same plan has been followed, and with the same care 
and minuteness as in the former volume, in preparing the Index. 

As to certain matters relating to the eastern part of the State, 
B. B. Burt, Esq., of Oswego, has kindly sent some annotations, 
a part of which are embodied in the Editor's Note, at pp. 109- 
116. The remainder, not received in season to appear there, 
are given below. 

Referring to Colonel William A. Bird's paper on early trans- 
portation in New York, Mr. Burt says: 

" Mr. Bird has made some mistakes. He states in the third paragraph in pane 18 that 
the French ' had established trading-houses at Oswego.' The French never had a perma- 
nent occupation of Oswego, nor did they ever establish a trading-house or houses at Oswego. 
They were here at the time of the capture of Oswego by Montcalm, in August, 1756, and 
then remained only a few days. I think he did not regard it prudent to remain any longer 
in the enemy's country, or when the English had the possession of this part of the State. 

V In the next paragraph Mr. Bird states that the English 'obtained possession of Os- 
wego by the treaty of peace with the French in 1756-7.' Although Beauharnois, on page 
999 of vol. 9 of the N. Y. Colonial Documents, under date of March 16, i7-'S, claims that 
the French had a fort at Choiieguen (Oswego) and claimed to have occupied it, and claimed 
its possession, I do not think the claim well founded. Gov. Burnet virtually denies it in 
the third paragraph on the next page (.1000), and claimed a right there. (See vol. 1. Doc. 
Hist, of N. Y.. on page 321, under 'Additional Particulars.') It was only a coveted and 
imaginary, and not an actual possession. 

" Prior to May 3, 1760, the English had reconstructed a fort (Ontario 1 * at Choueguen 
(Oswego), ' its army, commanded by Gage, had quitted the camp there, and left a garrison 
in a fort it had just constructed there.' (See vol. 10, Col. Doc, page 1078, third paragraph 
from the bottom.) « 

"On the tenth of August, that year. General Amheist embarked at Oswego with a 
force of eleven thousand for Montreal — and a capitulation was signed Sept. S, 1- • 
which act Canada passed under British domination. 

"■The English established a trading-house at Oswego in i7-'-'- (See Smith's History 
of N. Y. [quarto, 1st ed.|, p. 155 [part si, also pages 15S, 163 and u<s 1. Dunlap's Hist, 
of N. Y., 285.) 

"A fort was erected by Colonial Governor Burnet at Oswego in 1727, .ailed Fort Os- 
wego, and sometimes Fort Pepperel. Forts Ontario and George, sometime! called (U^ 
New Fort, were constructed at Oswego in 1755-u by the English, <i. Smtth> Hist, ot N. 
Y., p. r 7 o. 1. Dunlap's Hist, of N. Y M p. a8o. Smollett's History of Kngbad.) I here 
are numerous authorities in addition to the above, but thej are sufficient. 

" In the fifth line from the bottom of pa^e 18, and in the second line from the bott< m 
of page 19, Col. Bird locates Fort Fontenac at Oswego. It should have bee* Fort Onta- 
rio. Fort Frontenac was at Kingston. 

M On page 23, Colonel Bird states that he expected to ha\c received >oiue details in re- 
lation to the transportation business heforr the war, but had been disappointed. 




" I have in my possession the commission which appointed Joel Burt fan uncle of mine;, 
the first Collector of the District of Oswego, dated March 3, 1803, with the sign-manual of 
Thomas Jefferson as President, and James Madison as Secretary of State; also a commis- 
sion of the same date and signatures, appointing him Inspector of the Revenue for the Port 
of Oswego. I have some of the original records of the office, which show with great pre- 
cision, the amount and extent of the transportation business at the Port of Oswego during 
his term of office. Among them are all of the clearances for the season of 1804, 5, 6, and 7, 
then there is a blank in the book until October 10, 1810, and continued to and including 
June 11, 1811. The embargo act was passed December 21, 1807, and approved by the 
President, December 22, 1807, which explains the blank. Nathan Sage was appointed 
Collector as his successor, June 12, i8n. Many of the clearances are for Niagara, Queens- 
ton and Lewiston, and show that some of the goods were bound for Detroit. A great 
deal of salt was carneJ with general merchandise. Many of the clearances were for open 

" I have also a list of clearance* from April 17 to August 29, 1809, giving dates, name 
of vessel or "open boat,'" names of masters and for what ports. 

" Also a record of importations, dates, name of vessel, etc., master and articles, com- 
mencing July 3T, 1833, to and including November 30, 1837, when there is another blank 
until July 14, 1810, and from that time entries to and including December 17, 1810. 

" Also another book showing arrivals and clearances commencing March 31, 1S10, to 
and including June 12, iSii. 

" Also a copy of a return dated January t, 1807, showing that one hundred and twenty- 
nine vessels and boats cleared in i3d5, and ninety-one entrances, and that he granted thirty 
certificates to accompany goods over British portages at twenty cents each. The clearances 
and entries were $1.50 each, amounting to $336; his salary was .$250; commission, $7.50. 

44 Also a copy of a statement or abstract of duties collected from July 1st, to Septem- 
ber 30, 1806, amounting to $66.64. 

'* I am sure that the above are the only records of that period, showing the commerce 
of Oswego. 

"The duties on property received here for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1SS0, 
amounted to $727,208.55. Duties June 30, 18S0, to December 1, 1880, $640,463.30. 

" Arrivals during season of 1S79, 2,601, and during season to December 1, of iSS 1 (nav- 
igation still open), 2,840." 

In reference to Judge Vanderkemp's Journal, and the Report 
of James Cockburn, Surveyor, appended thereto, Mr. Burt says : 

44 You will see that Mr. Cockburn makes Fish Creek empty into Wood Creek. 

"Mr. Vanderkemp makes Fish Creek extend to Oneida Fake, and Wood Creek dis- 
charge into it. It shows that that which was below the point of intersection was not very- 
well defined. 

" Spafford's State Gazetteer of 181 3 makes the Onondaga River extend to Oneida Fake. 
Cockburn says the same. 

"The Roosevelts purchased a large tract from the State and transferred their contract, 
subject to certain reservations (493,136 acres), to George Scrib.iand Scribi, to * a patent in 
1794. That patent embraced most of this county east of the Oswego River." 


The following corrections should be made in reading: pages 
20, line 6 from bottom, and 47, line 2 from bottom, for " these 
river points" and "this river point," read "Three-River 
Point;" 24, line 7, for " 1812" read " 1810;" 112, lines 7-17 
should follow line 24, annotating page 97; 138, middle, for 
" Lecoulteulx," read " Lecouteulx;" 144, line 1, for " Kress- 
ner" read " Krettner;" 289, line 9, for " Holly," read Holley;" 
409, line 3, for "Armistead " read " Armistad." 

With these observations this second volume is submitted to 

its readers. 

A. B. 

i r 





Members of the Historical Society, Ladies and Gen- 
tlemen : 

My address must be historical ; it shall be chiefly pertinent 
to the rise, growth and character of our city: my subject is The 
Physiognomy of Buffalo. 

But in times like these, when momentous history is being 
made, and we are all so anxiously looking upon passing events, 
and straining forward to descry coming destinies, — our threat- 
ened nationality to be maintained, and liberty secured; our 
wealth and ourselves held ready for the public need; our young 
men to be given up if their country calls them; the dead to be 
mourned, and the living in perils of warfare to be followed 
with painful apprehensions, — amidst such experiences it is not 
easy to reverse the machinery, and, turning back leave the 
mighty crowd of daily events, and content oneself with gather- 
ing traditions and memories, and picturing the past. 


And yet good may come from occasional diversion of interest: 
the balance and health of our faculties are sometimes lost by 
long and intense concentration. When we grow feverish with 
anxiety, — impatient with what must be borne, it may do us good 
to wrench the mechanism, and turn backward for a little while ; 
by no means to neglect our duties in the present, — no. not for 
an hour, — but to maintain true poise and soundness of life, and 
have ourselves in readiness for right decisions and strenuous 

Once wrested away from passing events, we soon find satis- 
faction in searching, and picturing to ourselves, the beginnings 
and progress of customs, institutions, and society, — from the 
oak back to the acorn, — from the Amazon back to its everlast- 
ing snow-drift fountain, — from these United States to those 
frail, tempest-tost vessels that felt their way to Virginia, to 
Massachusetts, to New York. 

A few weeks ago, I was in a smart young town of Michigan, 
scarcely thirty years old, which is rapidly assuming the airs of 
a city ; and in the house of one of the first settlers, I saw two 
pictures ; rude enough they were, and yet there was Nature in 
them, and manifold suggestions. The artist was among the 
early settlers. One picture represented the first three or four 
cabins in Kalamazoo: women and children about the doors: 
the first doctor, on horseback, talking with a man at his cabin 
door, probably giving him a prescription for fever and ague. 
and ready to ride far and near to forest homes to keep souls 
and bodies from shaking asunder; and in the distance was 
seen the good Indian missionary coming on his mule to wel- 
come the settlers, and raise the voice of prayer and worship in 
their new home. The other picture was of the first trial In- 
jury in that County, in a log-cabin. There were the judges, 
the sheriff, the lawyers, the jury, the parties concerned. 

These pictures seized my imagination ; from those solid 
blocks of stores and dwellings and all the bustling life. I was 
back with the* Romulus and Remus of the settlement, suckled 

M»r. , .»r mmmim ■»! jmJMBHMWB 

/Y/ KSYOC/A'O .1/ K 0/' B UFFA L0. 3 

by the wolf of savagery and hardship, with those men and 
women who there gave themselves, like all first settlers, to win 
for their successors one of the thriftiest towns in the fairest 
country anywhere to be seen. Would that a painter had been 
here with our Romulus of Buffalo, Mr. Joseph Ellicott, to show 
him to us as he rode on horseback with Mrs. James Brisbane, 
in 1802, through the forest trees not far from where we are 
now, and, pointing to the lake and river seen through the leaves, 
assured her that a great city must arise here. We should 
like another picture of him standing by his compass in what 
now is Main street, in front of the churches: so confident is 
he that commerce must come here and pour out her horn of 
plenty, that he has resolved to lay out a city ; so delighted is 
he with the grandeur of the situation, that he thinks he will 
make his home here: he selects for himself a noble manor, one 
hundred acres of land, between Eagle and Swan streets, and 
from Main nearly to Jefferson street, almost enough for a prin- 
cipality in Germany, and determines to build upon the western 
front, looking towards the lake. So here, upon what is to be 
the site of his house, he stands by his compass, indicating the 
lines which now are our streets: Main Street, running north and 
south upon the crown of land: Church Street, directly front 
from his door to the water; Erie Street to the mouth of the 
creek, where commerce must come; Niagara Street to Black 
Rock Ferry, which was a great institution in the early day; — 
and so on, to the completion of the plan. 

Mr. Ellicott, in laying out our city, had large ideas, and 
worked upon a magnificent scale. There is originality in the 
plan. He did not bring a map of New York or Boston or Al- 
bany, and lay it down here; he wrought upon the inspiration 
of a magnificent hope, and we are greatly indebted to him for 
the open, handsome face of our city. 

It is reported that Mr. Ellicott said, " God has made Buffalo, 
and I must try to make Batavia." Cod did make the place 
and its surroundings; the wooded ridge gentlv sloping toward 

I -Mil— 


the sun, the lake stretching far away to the west, and pour- 
ing its unceasing flood along the majestic Niagara, close by, — 
the Canada shore, the Chautauqua and Cattaraugus hills, and 
the high lands of Evans, Aurora and Wales, all together \ as 
seen from the Reservoir on Niagara Street, is a noble panorama. 
I love to take strangers to see it. God made these surround- 
ings and background to relieve and set off our city's face, and 
He gives the contour of the physiognomy; but particular fea- 
tures are defined, and expression is given, by the streets and 
squares. Philadelphia, with its checker-board arrangement, 
looks set, precise, demure. Boston Common and the newly 
made parts of that city are very beautiful; but the most of its 
features are painfully contracted and snarled up. The face of 
New York is much too long for its breadth, and the forehead 
is still enlarging into monstrous proportions: cerebral diseases 
may be feared. State Street in Albany, and Capitol Square at 
its head, are like the fine nose and imperial brow of a noble 
face; but many of the features of Albany are cramped and dis- 
torted, as if the old builders, remembering little Holland, had 
still felt pinched for room, and so lived under the hill fighting 
against the floods of the Hudson, as their fathers had fought 
against the Zuyder Zee, instead of stretching over the sightly 

Our city has no neighboring hills, like Albany and Cincin- 
nati, to heighten expression; but its plan and streets, for beauty, 
health and convenience, I think, are unrivalled. There is 
enough irregularity to prevent tiresome monotony, and not 
enough to create confusion. Mr. Ellicott, I suppose, intended 
Niagara Square should be the center of his city; from that 
point the streets run out in all directions, eight broad avenues; 
and at night when these streets are lighted, from that point in 
the Square where they all center, they make a grand show, 
double lines of light stretching oft into the surrounding dark- 
ness. This Square did not become the center of the city, be- 
cause the State reserved a mile strip along the Niagara River; 

- '--*■■ i i if Mb 


and so Buffalo was thrown to the east and south, in a measure 
interrupting the perfection of Mr. Ellicott's plan. But as it has 
turned out, we have received a largess of favor from his libera] 
designing, — he gave to the city a good, comely face. 

But many of us can remember when the face of Buffalo was 
rather rough, and parts of the year too dirty with mire for 
washing to do any good. Main Street was as broad as Mr. 
Ellicott laid it out, but its mud was said to have no bottom. I 
have seen teams sloughed on Mohawk. Street, near Delaware ; 
and one team I remember seeing sunk so deep, that it seemed 
to be going through, until another team was brought to drag 
out and rescue the sinkers. I saw a young lady one day 
sloughed in the middle of Pearl Street, near Tupper, so that 
she could not step without leaving behind her shoes and over- 
shoes, perhaps the whole foot apparel ; and there she stood 
with a patience peculiar to those days, until I got boards and 
made a way for her poor feet. It was found every spring and 
fall that the face of Buffalo was too soft. Gradually our fine 
pavements for street and sidewalk have been extended — the best 
I know anywhere, — and now we have fifty-two miles of paved 
streets, so well graded that nowhere is there steepness enough 
to be inconvenient for heavy draughts, and everywhere there is 
descent enough to make quick and cleanly drainage. The 
physiognomy of Buffalo owes more than we think of to the ex- 
cellent system ot sewerage planned and recommended by Mr. 
Oliver G. Steele, and adopted more than twenty years ago; it has 
been gradually extended according to the original plan, until 
now we have fifty-four miles of sewers, all working in their hid- 
den ways for the health and beauty of our city. Oh, those dirty- 
faced, foul-breathed cities without sewers ! Chicago, Washing- 
ton, Baltimore and parts of New York, in a hot morning of 
August or September, have not faces fit to be seen, — and the 
atmosphere in the by-places is loaded with disease. We have 
fifty-six miles ot" gas pipes, and thirty-three miles of water 
pipes, filling streets and houses with light, and furnishing water 


to extinguish fires, promote cleanliness, and add to the com- 
forts of home. 

By all these outward means, costing about $2,000,000 in the 
aggregate, our city's physiognomy, which, though grand, was 
rude and shaggy at first, has been smoothed, refined and beau- 
tified. We all know in regard to human physiognomy what 
wonders are wrought by the surface touches of hatters, barbers 
and milliners: so has the face of our city been made comely. 

But physiognomy depends much upon the soul within. A 
face may have good contour, fine complexion, elegant surround- 
ings, — the features well enough, — and yet be blank, unmeaning. 
There can be no grand physiognomy without the illumination 
of a grand soul. I have watched college classes of young men, 
and seen the light of intelligence, and the delicate lines and 
touches of refinement coming into their faces, as their minds 
and hearts were raised and dignified by generous culture: un- 
promising heads and homely faces sometimes made glorious 
from the animating spirit that came out, visible, radiate, in eye 
and features. 

The physiognomy of cities takes characteristic airs and ex- 
pression from the spirit of builders and citizens. The cities of 
the middle ages, those strongholds, surrounded with walls, 
frowning with castles and towers, grew out of the belligerent 
spirit of cruel barbarism; and the physiognomy of those old 
feudal towns is like that of roughs and prize-fighters, by dread- 
ful discipline made up to maul, or be mauled, to death. The 
old castellated mount of Edinburgh seems still clenching its 
fists, and gritting its teeth with the ancient Scottish hate of 
England ; and York and Chester wear the stern features which 
the Romans, gave them to overawe the ancient Britons. The 
towns and very hamlets of Wales still look grim and defiant 
toward England. 

The French have built Paris, and how the spirit o\ France 
appears in the gay, showy capital ! No place in the world like 
it to eniov oneself, to be comfortable, to have pleasant sights 

- -^' "Mi 



and endless diversions, amusements, and scientific curiosities. 
It can take the weary, hard-worked man, and keep him busy in 
pleasant ways until he is rested ; it can take the poor hypo- 
chondriac, and make him laugh himself into health. Gay, in- 
teresting, smiling Paris, the Worldling's Heaven ! It is the 
ultimate result — the chef d'oeuvre — of the French spirit. Paris 
is France, and in its face shows the soul of the nation, — the 
theacer more than the church, enjoyment more than virtue, the 
life that is, more than that which has not come yet. 

We turn now to the physiognomy of our own city. It is a 
comely, noble face, — open, generous, pleasant, thoughtful, earn- 
est ; not grim, with knotted muscles, as though born out of 
combat, nor soft with blandishments for the merely sensuous 
nature. I like the face ; it has a common-sense look of busi- 
ness, and yet it has aesthetic expression of convenience and 
beauty, — a wise and serious look; public school-houses among 
the fine buildings on the sightly avenues, and the churches 
more conspicuous and beautiful than the theater. Business, 
knowledge, beauty, religion, are in the features of our city, more 
than pleasure and diversions. Cities take their physiognomy 
in a large degree from the spirit of their builders and citizens : 
we expect the child to possess its parents' qualities and ten- 
dency. Who were the fathers and mothers and builders of 
Buffalo, and were they such men and women, as, according to 
our philosophy, we must presume them to be? 

Mr. Ellicott, who first saw the possibility of a large city here, 
was no doubt a man of fine, natural sense, and far-sighted ; he 
saw what no one else could or did see, for many years; and 
long after he had laid out the city, and, in his own mind, saw 
the streets made and lined with blocks of stores and houses, 
emigrants from the East, refusing opportunities here, went on 
to Chautauqua and to Xew Connecticut, not believing a word 
of Mr. Kllicott's about the certainty of a large city at the foot 
of Lake Erie. Men were slow to see that a great commerce 
must grow up on these lakes. They could not comprehend the 


possibilities of the vast wilderness and prairies of the West ; 
and the settlers that came in here to the hamlet and village of 
Buffalo, from the beginning even up to 1816, had not begun to 
believe in Mr. Ellicott's prophecy. They came here to make a 
living by the local trade, and perhaps secure something by ad- 
vance of village lots ; but very few cared much for the great 
city-plan, with its Dutch-named avenues and streets. Though 
General Washington, thirty years before, on a journey to Central 
and Northern New York, had foreseen western settlement and 
commerce, and though Mr. Ellicott saw a city here, the ordin- 
ary men said, What chance for commerce here, while the creek 
has to make a new mouth for itself every Spring, through the 
shifting sands of the lake shore ? And yet commerce did in- 
crease, and Buffalo dragged along until it was burned up ; then 
it arose again, and after the war was over, new men came, with 
new ideas and great expectations. Western emigration began 
to be an astounding fact, and far-sighted men saw what must 
be the consequences of it : ways of communication must be 
opened between West and East ; a great canal must be made 
from the Hudson to Lake Erie, and at the western terminus of 
that canal, wherever it be, there must be a large commercial 
city. Such thoughts and conclusions drew bright, enterprising 
men to this vicinity, to Black Rock and Buffalo, from the new 
settlements of Western New York, and from New England, es- 
pecially from Connecticut. Superior men came looking after 
the great opportunity. Where should the city be ? 

Gen. Peter B. Porter, an energetic, imperative man, a dis- 
tinguished officer in the war that had lately closed, graced 
with the laurels he had won, and influential in the whole State. 
said the canal must come to Black Rock, and there the city 
must be ; and he and his friends prevailed so far as to procure 
great State appropriations for the Black Rock harbor; and they 
felt so confident, that Black Rock was laid out for a great city. 
Meantime, Buffalo was struggling for recognition oi her posi- 
tion and claims. We can hardly conceive of the intense rivalry 


and his confidence and the substantial reasons he could give 
for it, made him the man to plead for the interests of Buffalo. 
The day was hot, and our advocate, says my informant, pulled 
off his coat, and, according to the habit of his laborious life, 
worked for us all in his shirt-sleeves ! And Mr. Dart says that 
after the hearing, Governor Clinton summed up the whole 
matter in a judicial way, letting it be quite distinctly seen that, 
in his opinion, this was the place for the city, and that here the 
canal should terminate. During the years 1822 and 1823, with 
great struggle, the question was settled. The canal was to 
come to Buffalo. There were large-minded men here, who saw 
the opportunity, and with all their might laid hold of it. 

The first thing to be done was to give Buffalo Creek a per- 
manent, stationary mouth, into which vessels could enter. It 
was a difficult and expensive work. Black Rock said it never 
could be done ; but there were men here who said it should be 
done. But how? There was not ready money enough in the 
whole village to pay for such a work, and it was proposed that, 
if possible, twelve thousand dollars should be obtained by loan 
from the State. A bond was made, and the names that went 
upon that bond for the loan should be known to every inhabit- 
ant of Buffalo. That was the hard lift, that the magnum opus 
— and showed the noble purpose and determination of the men 
who gave the bond. In their day of small things, all of them 
comparatively poor, they bound themselves for the means to 
make it seem possible that there could be a harbor at this point. 
Everything depended on this : the State refused to do the ex- 
perimental work, the Canal Commissioners doubted : and so 
four men put their names to the bond, and got the twelve 
thousand dollars from the State ; and with other money, private 
subscriptions in small sums from the villagers, to be given in 
labor, in shoes, in blacksmithing, in stone, in pork, in brush 
for fascines, the first breakwater was constructed under the 
direction, and in part by the hands, of Judge Wilkeson, in iS:o 
and 1S21. These were the names upon that bond: At the 

i- cli' nm t«i*, €- rrt,.,*,,,,^.^.,,,^ „.r„..^^,^,.,.--.,.. .. ........ — . T - ■ rtMBt 'JlMMMfthill 


head, and probably the originator of the plan, S. Wilkeson ; 
let it stand upon his monument at Forest Lawn, of granite, like 
his character, — Urban condidil, he built the city. Charles Town- 
send and George Coit, young men from Connecticut, partners 
in a village trade, and Oliver Forward, a lawyer, and strong- 
natured man ; — all these four are builders of the city, — they 
took up the mountain and cast it into the sea. Others helped, 
— all worked then, when life and death for Buffalo hung on the 
ends of the balance. How little do we, who have entered into 
other men's labors, think how they struggled for what we so 
securely enjoy ! There was Judge Wilkeson's breakwater, made 
of fascines, filled in with rocks and sand, and bound together. 
Black Rock, and others, said the first spring storm would send 
the Judge's fascines down the Niagara in a hurry ; and there 
was danger, — Buffalo felt afraid. Mr. Henry Lovejoy says he 
remembers going with two hundred men down to the break- 
water, at the mouth of the creek, in the Spring of 1822, each 
with a shovel on his shoulder, that they might be there when 
the ice broke up and went out of the creek, and, by shoveling, 
manage the currents and protect the new breakwater. They 
waited there all day, the creek still as dead, playing 'possum 
w r hile they watched it. At dark they came home, hungry, tired, 
scolding at commercial difficulties, and, lo, in the night the 
flood burst out, as my informant says, turning the breakwater 
upside down. But the Judge had made it fast together, and so 
heavily weighted it with stone, that it held fast its integrity 
and kept its place ; and, to this day, the old cribs remain under 
the massive stone breakwater at the light-house. The floods 
were foiled, and Black Rock was non-suited. Buffalo had a 
harbor, and a way to get into it and out of it. 

Meantime, the canal was making; and, in 1825, came the 
grand opening of the New York highway between East and 
West; all clouds now had cleared away, and sunshine rested 
upon the fortunes of Buffalo. 

We will not fail to do justice to those men who were the 


fathers and builders of our handsome-faced city ; there were 
among them many large-minded, far-seeing men, and they gave 
their own great proportions to the city they builded ; and the 
expression of our city's physiognomy tells of Ellicott, and Wil- 
keson, and Townsend, and Coit, and Forward, and Heacock, 
and Johnson, and Pratt, and Love, and Tracy, and Potter, and 
Joy, and Webster, and Chapin, and the men who preached the 
Gospel, and those who taught the youth. Those men, the buil- 
ders, almost all are gone; and if any one inquires for their mon- 
ument, tell him to open his eyes, and look around ! Circu?nspice. 
But the most of those men who did so well, and the active 
men who came after them, are said to have made fools of them- 
selves in the speculations of 1835, which were, indeed, as wild 
here in Buffalo, as anywhere in the country. There are old 
men in New England, and multitudes of them in Old England, 
who think of our beautiful city as wearing a fool's face, because 
it had the speculation mania badly. Let me say a word about 
this. We deny that there is a single deep mark of a fool in the 
physiognomy of our city. The folly was only a passing shade. 
The fact is, we all make fools of ourselves some time, in some 
way, and the only question among us is, of more or less. Go 
read how the canny Scotchmen, one hundred and seventy years 
ago, were maddened and befooled by the Darien speculation, 
which had no other basis than a dream-idea which one Pater- 
son had, of opening a passage across the Isthmus of Darien. 
Fletcher, of Saltoun, chiefly known by his saying, "Let me 
make a nation's songs, and whoever will may make their laws,*' 
wise as he was, had this fever, and others among the shrewdest ; 
and, for six years, cold Scotia was all aflame, and then came 
utter collapse of the emptiness. Go read how Paris, all France 
indeed, was befooled, in 17 iS, by Law and his scheme of the 
Mississippi and India Company, a magnificent humbug hatched 
in the brain of one single man; all Paris went crazy for three or 
four years. More absurd things are told of than were ever 
done here. 


But England claims never to lose common-sense. Go read of 
her South Sea mania, in 1720. The whole nation was affected, 
from the throne to the cottage. The idea was to get gold and 
silver by going round Cape Horn to Peru and Mexico. The 
scheme was called the Earl of Oxford's masterpiece. Spain, 
powerful then, never allowed them to do a thing towards real- 
izing their idea ; but knaves blew it up into the most magnificent 
bubble, and for four or five years, the South Sea mania and its 
mighty Company swelled with gigantic pretensions. It would 
shoulder the whole national debt of thirty-one millions sterling ; 
it would pour riches into every house ; it swelled, and then — 
it burst ! and English Common-sense was seen, with foolish 
and enraged look, staring at the floating vapors. The mania 
of speculation here was not so strange, — there was foundation 
to stand upon. From the opening of the canal, in 1825, there 
was a rush of western emigration through Buffalo ; each year 
it grew greater than before ; the canal was crowded ; hotels all 
full ; warehouses groaned under their burdens ; vessels and 
steamers could not be built fast enough for the demands of 
business. I was here in the autumn of 1835, and one morning 
I was at the dock, with many other strangers, gazing upon the 
mighty heaving western tide. There was a pile of goods and 
furniture all along on Joy and Webster's wharf, more than 
twenty feet high, and upon the top of it sat as many as a dozen 
Senecas, men and women, they, too, with the rest of us, gazing 
with astonishment at this sudden flood of life sweeping over 
them, coming they knew not whence, and going they knew not 
whither. It was marvelous ! Land was wanted; land to stand 
upon, land to speculate with; land was gold! And then it 
seemed that all the opening West was to come with its harvest- 
contributions floating right to Buffalo. Railroads then were 
not much thought of for carrying freight. To this point came 
the lake, — from this went the canal ; and here might be the 
New York of the West ; and so it would have been, but for the 
coming of railroads to compete with vessels for the carrying 

in ■ utrf •*-■'* 


trade. It was not strange that the men here made a great mis- 
take — got wild with hope ; and that some were hoisted upon 
their bubbles to get very bad falls; but generally there was 
some basis to speculation ; it was not all idea and dream ; 
there were real facts enough to make sensible men hope pro- 
digiously. It may seem very wise to look back and laugh at 
the old builders and business men of Buffalo, but they were 
wiser than Solomon, compared with Scotland, France and Eng- 
land when their ravings came. 

I love to think what those men of Buffalo in 1835, in their 
great hope, meant to do here. The merchants were to have an 
exchange filling Clarendon Square, with a towering dome two 
hundred and twenty-five feet above the pavement. Commo- 
dore Perry was to have a monument of white marble in front of 
the churches one hundred feet high, with graceful carving, ar- 
morial bearings, and emblematic statues. Education was to 
have the University of Western New York, with magnificent 
endowment, and the foremost men of the country in its various 
departments. Nor were the good intents all on paper, merely — 
one. of the wildest of the hopers did actually start a free public 
school for sixty scholars, children of the poor, and kept it open 
and flourishing for several years. I honor men, who if they do 
get crazed by enterprise and too much hope, show themselves 
large-minded and nobly generous, grateful to patriots, munifi- 
cent to education, mindful of the poor, and anxious to bestow- 
true riches and quickened life upon posterity ! 

With the mind's eye, behold our city's physiognomy, as the 
great hopers meant it should be, with the beautiful Perry mon- 
ument, and the University of Western New York with its grand 
buildings on North street, rivalling Yale or Harvard, and soci- 
ety graced and improved by its teachers and students ; and 
with a commerce on the lake that might require a merchants" 
exchange as large and high as was dreamed o\. Despite the 
ridicule upon those builders' failure, the future may fulfill their 
expectation more nearly than we think. 

- — '■■■' " n'Mi i M i 'rtfti ll 1 1I 1 1 1 I I I ni llWJM— Hfct 


In regard to faces, association does wonders ; the old adage 
comes true, "Handsome is, that handsome does"; even homely 
features may get so blent with truth, love, and nobleness, that 
to the mind's eye they are beautiful. The kind, good woman, 
though with no line of grace or beauty in form or face, who has 
left home and friends, and for the sake of mercy gone to the 
hospitals, becomes beautiful as an angel to the sick soldier, as 
she bends over him with a mother's tenderness, striving to re- 
lieve his anguish. And just so it is with cities' faces. There 
is little Calais, in France: to my mind it has always worn a halo 
of glory ever since in my old school-book I read how Edward 
III. of England was about to put the city to fire and sword, but 
consented to spare the inhabitants and their homes and chil- 
dren-, if six of the principal men of the city would volunteer to 
come bareheaded -and barefooted, with halters about their 
necks, to be hanged in view of his besieging, victorious army. 
And the martyr heroes came, Eustace de St. Pierre at their 
head. Such nobleness has given interest and beauty to Calais 
for all these five hundred years! The old pilgrims of 1620 
gave a glory to the unromantic shores and barren hills of Ply- 
mouth; and travelers will not cease to go to that shrine of lofty 
self-sacrifice to truth and freedom, to gaze upon the brave, he- 
roic face of that landscape. And, alas, how the face of a city 
that is fair enough to the outward sight, may to the mind's eye 
get a look of deformity that will make outward comeliness as 
nothing. There is New York, imperial city, at the gates of the 
world's commerce, the waters gathering around her as if anx- 
ious to bear her freighted keels ; but oh, that hard, meanly cruel 
scowl upon her face, wrought there by riot against law, and 
savage massacre of weak, unoffending men, women and chil- 
dren, because (iod had made them with a dark skin ! And. let 
the truth be told, our own city got an ugly mark, a stain not 
readily washed out, by similar riot and bloodshed. Sin de- 
stroys b6auty! Look far away towards the sunset, to the 
(iolden Horn of the West, where San Francisco, Queen ot the 

iMitmri ariniwnn f - — « — 


Pacific, sits beside the sea. She has been noble: though so far 
away, and tempted to stand aloof in selfish isolation, she has 
felt the laboring heart-beat of the Union, and of liberty ; and 
while bearing her share of public burden, she has sent hun- 
dreds of thousands to the Sanitary Commission. With generous 
loyalty she turns towards us, and stretches out her arms to help- 
To the mind's eye how noble and fair the face of that young 
Pacific Queen ! Handsome is, that handsome does. 

The builders of our city have done their work, and, on the 
whole, have done it well. They have made for us a dwelling- 
place with open, finely formed features; and their earnest, gen- 
erous spirit gives a handsome expression. But Buffalo is not 
finished ; generations yet to come are still to be builders ; and 
every one of us in public or piivate life, is giving expression 
more and more, good or bad, to our city's face. 





The transportation through this State is now counted by 
millions of tons; the receipts from it amount to many millions of 
dollars; and yet there are those now living who formed a part 
of the first line for transportation from Albany to Lake Erie, 
when the business at any one place was transacted by one firm, 
and the gross amount of merchandize did not, for the year, 
much, if any, exceed one hundred tons. 

The growth of this State in wealth and resources, within the 
last fifty years, is without a parallel in the history of the world. 
Extending from the ocean to the lakes, — with a magnificent 
ocean harbor, and the noble Hudson affording ship navigation 
one hundred and fifty miles within it, — with the numerous small 
lakes and water-courses in the interior, and a surface of country 
which Nature seems to have provided and pointed out to us for 
artificial navigation, this State has a commanding influence 
and control over the transportation of the merchandize and 
produce of the great Western States, to the growth of which it 
has so essentially contributed, and which in their turn have 

#* M f>1> - MMl ri.n- i tint 1 » »m i > a— * a i m v i . i ■ m t , w m ,i <«T i ii i* «tr tin ■ r l nn t. i. r ■ >,« ._ [■■HIlMi nh r IT i 


added so much to our prosperity, our wealth and our impor- 

Of the beginning of the transportation business, and of its 
growth to the commencement of the work on the Erie Canal, 
I propose to give a hasty history. 

Before the Revolutionary War very little was known of the 
country west of Utica. The Dutch, who were the first to set- 
tle on Manhattan Island, had extended their settlements up 
along the Hudson River to Albany, and westward up the Mo- 
hawk as far as the German Flats. 

The French had come into the country by the St. Lawrence 
River, and had pushed their settlements up that river to Lake 
Ontario, the Niagara, Detroit and other rivers westward: they 
had built forts or stockades at Niagara and Schlosser, and had 
established trading-houses at Oswego, and at both ends of the 
portage around Niagara Falls, at which they carried on an ex- 
tensive barter with the Indians. 

The English, after their treaty of peace with the Dutch in 
1674, held peaceable possession of Manhattan Island, and 
all the territory before claimed by them in this State. They 
also claimed, by right of discovery, all of this State westward to 
the lakes, but do not seem to have occupied any considerable 
portion of it beyond the German Flats or Utica. They, how- 
ever, made great efforts to entice the Indians and their trade 
to Albany, and to divert them from the French. By the treaty 
of peace with the French in 1756-7, they obtained possession 
of Oswego and Niagara; and in 175S they erected a fort at 
what is now Rome, called Fort Stanwix, and afterwards called 
Fort Schuyler, to protect the frontier settlements from the In- 
dians, and to facilitate their then communication with Fort 
Frontenac at Oswego, and that way with Niagara. 

Soon after the close of the Revolutionary War, the attention 
of public men was attracted to the beautiful, well watered, well 
wooded and fertile country in Western New York. 

General Washington, in 1784. made a tour westward from 



Schenectady up the Mohawk to Fort Schuyler: he crossed over 
to Wood Creek; thence to the head waters of the eastern branch 
of the Susquehanna. In a letter to the Marquis of Chastel- 
lux, he says: "Prompted by these observations, I could not 
help taking a more contemplative and extensive view of the 
vast inland navigation of these United States, and could not 
but be struck with the immense diffusion and importance of it. 
Would to God, we may have the wisdom to improve them." 

Elkanah Watson was among the first to appreciate the im- 
portance of a safe, easy and expeditious channel of communi- 
cation between the Hudson and the lakes. In 1788 he visited 
the extreme settlements on the western frontier of New York. 
In his Journal he said: "I left Fort Stanwix on my way down 
W T ood. Creek to Lake Ontario, and perhaps to Detroit, having 
a strong presentiment that a canal communication will be 
opened, sooner or later, from the great lakes to the Hudson." 

The citizens of Philadelphia and Baltimore early became 
acquainted by way of the Susquehanna with the western part 
of New York, and saw the importance of diverting the trade 
of that country to their markets. 

In 1 791, in an account of the Ontario country, published in 
Philadelphia, the writer says: "It is in contemplation at 
present, to make a water communication between the Susque- 
hanna and the Schuylkill, which, if effected, will lay open the 
market of Philadelphia for the reception of the produce of all 
the Genesee country." Another writer, in 1799, says: "The 
early settlers on the navigable streams find the most advan- 
tageous market for their produce in Canada, where they send 
their beef, pork, flour and whiskey. To the County of Steu- 
ben, Nature has pointed out a market by the Susquehanna River. 
Several, of its branches afford good navigation for boats, carry- 
ing six to eight tons, to the most westerly parts of the county." 

Governor George Clinton accompanied the expedition against 
Fort Frontenac, at Oswego, in 1756, as a Lieutenant, in a Com- 
pany commanded by his brother James, afterwards General, 


Clinton, and thus obtained a knowledge of the country which 
was valuable to him in his subsequent public life. In 1791, 
when Governor of this State, in his message to the Legislature, 
he said: "Our frontier settlements, freed from apprehension 
of danger, are rapidly increasing, and must yield extensive 
resources and a profitable commerce. This consideration forci- 
bly recommends the policy of continuing to facilitate the 
means of communication with them." 

The Legislature, acting on the Governor's recommendation, 
passed a law, entitled "An Act concerning Roads and Internal 
Navigation," which directed the Commissioners of the Land 
Office to cause the country to be explored between Fort Stanwix 
and Wood Creek, and between the Hudson and Wood Creek, 
in the County of Washington; and directed them to make an 
estimate of the expenses of constructing canals on those routes. 
The Commissioners made a favorable report, whereupon the 
Legislature passed " An Act for establishing and opening Lock 
Navigation within this State." The Act provided for the incor- 
poration of two Associations — The Western Inland Lock Nav- 
igation Company, and the Northern Inland Lock Navigation 
Company. This Act appointed no less than fifty-six Directors 
in the two Companies, from among the most eminent men in 
this State. These Directors selected a Committee, consisting 
of Philip Schuyler, Goldsbrow Banyan and Elkanah Watson, to 
examine the country on the western route; who in August and 
September made a careful survey of the Mohawk River from 
Schenectady to Fort Schuyler, a distance of one hundred and 
twenty-one and three-quarters miles, and Wood Creek, which 
has its source near Fort Schuyler, and empties into Oneida 
Lake, the outlet of which connects at these river points with 
the Oswego River. This Committee made their report, Sep- 
tember, 1792, very much in detail. They estimated the expense 
of clearing out the Mohawk, for the construction of a canal 
with five locks around the Little Falls, and for a canal from 
Fort Schuyler to Wood Creek. They estimated the aggregate 


( expense to complete the navigation from Schenectady to Wood 
Creek at ,£39,500, or $100,000. A Stock Company was organ- 
ized, and the work immediately commenced. 

The art of constructing canals was little understood, and the 
topography of the country was not accurately ascertained. 
Many of the shareholders forfeited their shares. A few, more 
persevering, prosecuted the undertaking, and established an 
imperfect canal a little less than three miles long, with five 
locks at the Little Falls; a canal one and one-fourth long at Ger- 
man Flats, and a canal one and three-fourths long from the Mo- 
hawk to Wood Creek, and constructed several wooden locks on 
that stream. These improvements were in use until the construc- 
tion of the Erie Canal. By the requirements of the Act passed 
April 17th, 181 7, these works were appraised by Commissioners, 
and passed into the ownership of the State, at a cost of $153,- 
810.80, of which the State received, as owner of the stock, 
§62,204.80. After the completion of the Erie Canal, this route 
and the works connected with it were abandoned and suffered 
to go to decay. 

When the mile strip along the Niagara River was surveyed 
into lots in 1804, the Surveyor-General reserved from sale a 
mile square at Lewiston, the Steadman farm at Schlosser, and 
all that part south of a line a little north of Ferry Street at 
Black Rock; which latter was laid out into village lots, and 
known as the "South Village of Black Rock." The State 
owning the landings at Lewiston and Schlosser, sold in 1S06, 
at. auction, the lease of the portage between those places. The 
lease was purchased by Augustus and Peter B. Porter, Benjamin 
Barton and Joseph Annin, who, thereby, had the exclusive right 
of the portage, and were required to perform the whole service, 
and as a consequence, they were " The Monopoly " of the day, 
— much talked of, much abused, but never wanting in efficiency 
or in prompt and honorable dealings. 

They did business under the name of " Porter, Barton & 
Co." They formed a connection with Mathew McXair, at 


Oswego, and Jonathan Walton <\: Co., at Schenectady, in the « 
forwarding business, and thus created the first regular line of 
forwarders that ever did business from tide-water to Lake Erie, 
on the American side of the Niagara. Goods were transported 
by teams from Albany to Schenectady; thence by boats to the 
Oswego Falls; around those falls by a portage; thence by boats 
to vessels at Oswego, and in them to Lewiston; by teams over 
the portage to Schlosser, and up the Niagara River in large 
Durham boats. This class of boats are now out of use here. 
They were open, with running-boards twelve or fourteen inches 
wide, over the wale, the whole length of the boat, and were 
propelled up the stream by poles, the men on the two sides of 
the boat walking with the poles to their shoulders from bow 
to stern, and so repeating the long tedious way up the river. 
Returning down the current, the boats were managed with oars. 
Our worthy fellow-citizen, Captain James Sloan, yet living, 
has walked these planks many a weary mile, and has held the 
helm, directing the boat on very many passages up and down 
this river. 

Porter, Barton & Co. built warehouses at Lewiston, Schlos- 
ser and at Black Rock, near the foot of what is now called 
Breckinridge Street. They also sunk piers in the bay or eddy 
below and near to Bird Island ; and on them erected a large 
warehouse, at which vessels could lie, to discharge and receive 
their cargoes. The river boats were sometimes drawn by the 
"horn breeze" up the Black Rock Rapids to this warehouse, 
and at other times discharged their cargoes at the lower ware- 
house, to which the schooners would come, and in their turn 
(if the wind was not favorable) be drawn out of the river by 
the aforesaid "horn breeze," which was a team of from six to 
twelve yoke of oxen, kept by the Company for that purpose' 
attached to a hawser hitched to the mast of the vessel, and 
supported between the vessel and shore by small boats. 

The teams on the portage were generally three yoke of oxen 
owned by the Company ; and the load from Lewiston to 


Schlosser twelve barrels of salt, or its equivalent in merchan- 
dise. They made but one trip a day. Some estimate may be 
formed of the number employed, when fifteen to eighteen thou- 
sand barrels of salt, besides merchandise, were drawn over the 
portage during the navigable season. The Company gave em- 
ployment to all teamsters who offered. These frequently used 
horses, seven barrels being a load when the roads were, good, 
and they were paid two shillings to two shillings and six pence 
per barrel — the charge on salt from Lewiston to Black Rock 
was seven shillings per barrel, and from Schlosser three shill- 
ings; on freight, six shillings per cwt. from Lewiston to Black 
Rock ; on down freight, from Schlosser to Lewiston, three 
shillings per barrel. 

The writer had been promised and expected to have received 
from Alvin Bronson, Esq., of Oswego, and from Mr. Hall, an 
early vessel-owner at Sackett's Harbor, some details in rela- 
tion to the business, before the war, on Lake Ontario and the 
St. Lawrence River, but he has been disappointed. He, how- 
ever, now has a letter from Hon. Alvin Bronson, the only sur- 
viving member of the first Transportation Companies, as fol- 
lows : 

Oswego, January 19th, 1S66. 
W. A. Bird, Esq.: Dear Sir — Yours of the 17th inst. received. I arrived 
at Oswego, Spring of iSio, and in connection with my partners, Jacob Town- 
send and Sheldon Thompson, established the warehou.-e and forwarding bus- 
iness on the lakes. Our establishments were located at Oswego, Lewiston 
and Black Rock, and for two years before and two or three after the 
War of 1S12, our firm of Townsend, Bronson & Co., in connection with 
Porter, Barton &: Co., lessees of the State Portage of Niagara Falls, con- 
ducted most of the transit business of all the lakes, comprising salt for the 
Pittsburg market, the Indian annuities, military stores for the frontier posts, 
the Fur Company's goods and peltries, together with the merchandise and 
products of the Lake region. I found Jonathan Walton, of Schenectady, the 
only established forwarder of goods between Albany and Oswego. Afterward, 
and during the war, he connected John J. DeGraff in his business, under the 


firm of Walton & DeGraff, which firm transported all the stores for the army 
and navy from Albany to Oswego. These were consigned to me at Oswego 
where I held the office of Public Store Keeper, under appointments from the 
Quarter-master's Department for the Army, and Commodore Chauncey for 
the navy. After the war, Eri Lusher established himself as a forwarder at 
Schenectady, in competition with Walton & DeGraff. 

On the year of my arrival, 1S12, a Commission arrived at Oswego, ap- 
pointed by the Legislature, to explore a canal route between the lakes and 
tide-water, consisting of DeWitt Clinton, Thomas Eddy and Peter B. Por- 
ter. The War of 1S12 arrested or delayed the project, and when resumed in 
181 7, the overland route for the Erie Canal was adopted. 

In accordance with a former letter, I intended to have given a more elab- 
orate article for your contemplated work, but have not found as much time 
as I anticipated; and, besides, I find, as age advances, exertion, either mental 
or physical, grows more irksome. 

Respectfully, Your Ob't S't, 

Alvin Bronson. 

After the war, a branch firm was established at Black Rock, 
by Porter, Barton & Co. and Townsend, Bronson & Co., under 
the name of Sill, Thompson &: Co., which continued in business 
until about the year 1S23 or 1S24. 

The traffic to the West from the Hudson increased with 
wonderful rapidity after the War of 181 2. The farmers' teams 
which took their grain to market could not supply the mer- 
chandise required in the western villages, growing into wealth 
and importance. Additional facilities were required, and the 
teams between Albany and Schenectady gradually extended 
their routes further westward. Regularly organized lines of 
teams were formed for inland transportation along the turnpike 
and main roads to Buffalo, having several teams of five, seven 
and nine horses, hitched to great Pennsylvania, or "Canastoga," 
wagons. Of these, many will remember one line run by Robert 
Hunter & Co., and one by Brown & Co. These teams were 
usually from twelve to eighteen days on the road from Albany 
to Buffalo, and the charges were from $2.50 to $5.00 per hun- 


dred. On the stage route, as many as twenty to thirty of these 
teams would be seen in a day. Taverns for their accommoda- 
tion, with large barns and sheds, were established every twelve 
or fifteen miles along the route; which, of themselves, made 
quite a formidable village appearance. All these, with the 
large outlay of wagons, became dead property on the opening 
of the Erie Canal; the decaying remains of many of them are 
yet to be seen along the. old stage route to Albany. 

The canal soon drew to it all the active business. The vil- 
lages on the old route were deserted by the most enterprising, 
and new villages started up along the canal. The portage, and 
the warehouses connected with it, became worthless. Lewis- 
ton, where Surveyor-General De Witt had anticipated a large 
town, was "left out in the cold." The unmeasured water- 
power at the Falls, where the Messrs. Porter and Barton had 
taken up large tracts of land, at the sale by the State, looking 
to a manufacturing town, became comparatively useless. The 
canal had diverted the trade, and had created a more avail- 
able hydraulic power at Black Rock and Lockport. 

The Erie Canal having become popular, and the controlling 
route and means of transportation, and as there is some diver- 
sity of opinion existing, or want of correct information in rela- 
tion to its beginning, some account of its early history may 
not be inappropriate here. 

In relation to the person to whom the credit should be given 
for the first suggestion of the practicability of a canal from 
Lake Erie to the Hudson, there can be no doubt. With our 
present knowledge of the country between the Hudson and the 
lakes, it would seem hardly possible that an intelligent man 
should pass over it, along its streams and numerous lakes, 
without thinking that some improvements would be made, by 
which they should be made subservient to our use, to transport 
the produce of this fertile region to a market. It is not, there- 
fore, surprising that many have suggested canals and improve- 
ments in the rivers and streams connecting the small lakes; but 


to Gouverneur Morris should be given the credit of first sug- 
gesting the grand idea of a continuous canal from Lake Erie to 
the Hudson. 

Simeon De Witt, the Surveyor-General of this State for over 
forty years, uses the following language in a letter to William 
Darby, in 1822 : 

"A considerable discussion, as you know, has appeared in print about the 
origin of the Erie Canal, with a view of ascertaining who is entitled to the 
honor of it. The following statement of facts will, I believe, enable the public 
to form a correct opinion on this point. The merit of first starting the idea 
of a direct communication by water, between Lake Erie and the Hudson, 
unquestionably belongs to Gouverneur Morris. The first suggestion I had of 
it was from him. In 1S03, I accidentally met him at Schenectady. We put 
up for the night at the same inn, and passed the evening together. Among 
the numerous topics of conversation, to which his prolific mind and excessive 
imagination gave birth, was thai of improving the means of intercourse with 
the interior of this State. He then mentioned the project of tapping Lake 
Erie, as he expressed himself, and leading its waters, in an artificial river, 
across the country to the Hudson. To this I very naturally opposed the 
intermediate hills and valleys as insuperable obstacles. His answer was, in 
substance, ' Labor improbus ounia vincet; 1 and that the object would justify 
the labor and expense, whatever it might be. Considering this as a romantic 
thing, and characteristic of the man, I related it on several occasions. Mr. 
Geddes now reminds me that I mentioned it to him in 1S04, when he was a 
member of tKe Legislature; and adds, that afterwards, when in company with 
Jesse Hawley, it became a subject of conversation, which probably led to 
inquiries that induced him to write the essays which afterwards appeared in 
the newspapers, on the subject of carrying a canal from Lake Erie to Albany, 
through the interior of the country, without going by way of Lake Ontario." 

Governor Seward, in his introduction to the Natural History 
of the State of New York, says : 

"To Gouverneur Morris, History will assign the merit of first suggesting a 
direct, continuous communication from Lake Erie to the Hudson. In 1S00, 
he announced this idea from the shores of the Niagara River to a friend in 
Europe, in the following enthusiastic language : ' Hundreds of large ship-; 
will, at no distant period, bound on the billows of these inland seas. Shall 
I lead your astonishment to the verge of incredulity? I will. Know, then, 
that one-tenth part of the expense borne by Great Britain in the la>t cam- 


paign, would enable ships to sail from London, through the Hudson River, to 
Lake Erie. As yet, we only crawl along the outer shell of our country. The 
interior excels the part we inhabit, in soil, in climate, in everything. The 
proudest empire of Europe is but a bauble, compared with what America 
may be, — must be.' " 

Colden, in his Memoirs, says : 

"The praise awarded to Gouverneur Morris must be qualified by the fact, 
that the scheme he conceived was that of a canal with a uniform declension, 
and without locks, from Lake Erie to the Hudson river." 

The political parties in this State have each claimed to be 
the especial friends of the canal. The public records show 
that both have supported the canal, and that individuals of 
both parties have opposed it. Governors Tompkins, Clinton, 
arid Marcy each strongly recommended its vigorous prosecution, 
in their Messages to the Legislature. The Journals of the 
Senate and Assembly show that it was supported by Bucktails 
and Clintonians, Democrats and Whigs. The friends and op- 
ponents of the canal were divided by localities ; the western 
members being always for it, while in its early stages the south- 
ern members, those on the Hudson River, the southern tier of 
counties, and those from the extreme north-western counties, 
were most of them opposed to it. And it was not until its 
successful operation that they fell into line in its favor. 

In 1807, Albert Gallatin, then Secretary of the Treasury, in 
pursuance of a recommendation made by Thomas Jefferson, 
President of the L^nited States, reported a plan for appropriat- 
ing all the surplus revenues of the General Government to the 
canals and turnpike roads; and Mr. Seward, in 1S42, says: " It 
embraced in one grand and comprehensive view, nearly with- 
out exception, all the works which have since been executed 
or attempted in the several States of the Union. This bold 
and statesmanlike, though premature, conception of that emi- 
nent citizen, will remain the greatest amongst the many monu- 
ments of his forecast and wisdom." 

In 1S0S, Mr. Forman in the Assembly, referring to the fore- 


going report of Mr. Gallatin, submitted a Resolution "for a 
Joint Committee to take into consideration the propriety of ex- 
ploring and causing an accurate survey to be made of the most 
eligible and direct route for a canal, to open a communication 
between the tide-waters of the Hudson River and Lake Erie." 
That Resolution was adopted, and a Joint Committee appointed. 

March 21st, 1808, Mr. Ford, from that Committee, made a 
Report and submitted a Resolution, directing the Surveyor- 
General to cause the surveys to be made, which was agreed to 
by both Houses, and an appropriation of six hundred dollars 
made for the purpose. 

June nth, the Surveyor-General appointed James Geddes to 
make those surveys. Mr. Geddes proceeded at once to survey, 
first, the communication between Oneida Lake and Ontario; 
second, the Niagara River; third, the interior route, without 
•descending to or passing through Lake Ontario. His survey 
was well executed, and completed in 1S08, and his Report and 
maps submitted January 20th, 1S09. 

It is remarkable that Mr. Geddes' surveys and levels, made 
in the woods and uncultivated country, have been proved by 
all subsequent surveys and levels to have been very accurate. 
And it is more remarkable that he should have been able to 
accomplish so much with so small an appropriation — a sum 
which in those days would hardly fit out a surveying party, or 
prepare them to begin a survey. 

In 18 10, March 3d, Jonas Piatt, in the Senate, introduced a 
Resolution appointing Gouverneur Morris, Stephen Van Rens- 
selaer, DeWitt Clinton, Simeon DeYVitt, Thomas Eddy, and 
Peter B. Porter, Commissioners for exploring the whole route. 
examining the present state of the navigation, and considering 
what further improvements ought to be made therein; which 
Resolution was adopted by Senate and Assembly; and an Act 
passed, April 5th, directed the Treasurer to pay three thousand 
dollars for the expenses thereof. 

Cadwallader D. Colden, in his Memoirs, — himself one of the 


earliest and ablest advocates of the canal, — awards to Thomas 
Eddy the merit of having suggested this motion to Mr. Piatt, 
and to both these gentlemen that of engaging DeWitt Clinton's 
support — he being at that time a member of the Senate. 

These Commissioners made a personal examination of the 
country in 181 1, and made a very able and full Report in March, 
181 1, in relation to the several routes proposed. They recom- 
mended the inland route, and estimated its cost at about five 
millions of dollars. In respect to this route the Commissioners 
refer to the Report and maps of Mr. Geddes. They say: 
"From them it is evident that such a navigation is practicable. 
Whether the route he sketched out will hereafter be pursued, — 
whether a better may not be found, and other questions sub- 
ordinate to these, can only be solved at a future time;" and, 
" They cannot too often repeat Uiat this report must be accepted, 
as suggestions proceeding from a superficial view, and not as 
conclusions founded on sufficient and scientific investiga- 
tions;" and, "They take the liberty of entering their feeble 
protest against a grant to private persons or companies. 
Too great a National interest is at stake. It must not be- 
come the subject of a job, or a fund for speculation. Among 
other objections, there is one insuperable: that it would 
defeat the contemplated cheapness of transportation." 

This Report, Mr. Seward says, was written by Gouverneur 
Morris, who was President of the Board. 

Mr. Clinton introduced a Bill, entitled "An Act to provide 
for the Internal Navigation of this State," which became a law 
April nth, 181 1, appointing the same persons Commissioners. 
— with the addition of Robert R. Livingston and Robert Ful- 
ton, — authorizing them to apply to the General Government 
for aid, and to employ more engineers and surveyors; and 
directing the same to advance to them any sum not exceeding 
fifteen thousand dollars, to be accounted for by them. 

March nth, 181 2, the Commissioners made another Report, 
reciting their application to the General Government, and the 


action of the several States with which they had communicated 
on this subject. They are in this language: " The Commis- 
sioners, [in their first Report,] took the liberty to express the 
opinion that an offer should be made to the National good: 
and they saw with pleasure and with pride that the Legislature 
(concurring in that opinion) adopted the most honorable 
means for inducing the United States to acquire it. But the 
offer made was not accepted, and the State is at liberty to con- 
sult and pursue the maxims of policy." 

From the States, the replies were to the following effect: 
Tennessee, Massachusetts and Ohio would instruct their Mem- 
bers of Congress to favor the application; Xew Jersey, Con- 
necticut and Vermont do not favor the application; Michigan 
decided that the inland route through Xew York was not so 
desirable as the route by the Falls of Niagara and Lake On- 
tario. The Commissioners thereupon examined the advan- 
tages of the two routes, and again reported most decidedly in 
favor of the inland route. After describing its advantages, 
and refuting the arguments of those opposed to the canal pro- 
ject, they said: " Things which twenty years ago a man would 
have been laughed at for believing, we now see. Under these 
circumstances there can be no doubt that those microcosmie 
minds which, habitually occupied in the consideration of what 
is little, are incapable of discussing M'hat is great, and who 
already stigmatize the proposed canal as a romantic scheme, 
will not unsparingly distribute the epithets, absurd, ridiculous, 
chimerical, on the" estimate of what it may produce. The 
Commissioners must, nevertheless, have the hardihood to brave 
the sneers and sarcasms of men, who, with too much pride to 
study, and too much wit to think, undervalue what they do not 
understand, and condemn what they cannot comprehend." 
Again: "Will it then appear improbable that twenty years 
hence the canal should annually bring down two hundred and 
fifty thousand tons?" — "Standing on such facts is it extravagant 
to believe that New York may look forward to the receipt (at 


no distant day) of one million dollars net revenue from this 
canal? The life of an individual is short. The time is not 
distant when those who make this Report will have passed 
away. But no time is fixed to the existence of a State; and the 
first wish of a patriot heart is, that his own may be immortal." 
They estimated the expense at about §6,000,000, and add, 
" The expense, be it what it may, is no object when compared 
with the incomparable benefit." 

March 8th, 1814. The Commissioners made another Report 
in which they say they have engaged an engineer in England, 
and await his arrival to commence the surveys for the exact 
line to be adopted, and that their further examinations con- 
tinue to be more and more satisfactory, but have been sus- 
pended by the war. 

March 8th, 1816. This Board of Commissioners made their 
last Report. They repeat their confidence in the enterprise, 
and urge the early action of the Legislature. 

March 21st, 1816. Mr. Van Rensselaer, from the Joint Com- 
mittee of the Senate and Assembly appointed on that part of 
Governor Tompkins' speech, reported a Bill entitled " An Act 
for improving the Internal Navigation of this State;" which, 
having been very thoroughly debated and amended in the Sen- 
ate and Assembly, became a law, April 17th, 1816; by which 
Stephen Van Rensselaer, DeWitt Clinton, Samuel Voung, 
Joseph Ellicott and Myron Holley were appointed Commis- 
sioners, with all the necessary powers to " cause that part 
of the territory of this State, which may lie contiguous to the 
probable courses and ranges of the said canal, to be explored 
and examined for the purpose of determining the most eligible 
routes for the same;" and to " cause all surveys and levels, with 
accurate maps, field books and drafts thereof, to be made; and 
to "adopt and recommend proper plans for the construction of 
the said canal, and of the locks, dams, embankments, tunnels 
and aqueducts." This Act appropriated $20,000 to defray the 
expenses thereof. 


February 17th, 181 7. The Commissioners made an elab- 
orate Report of the whole route, estimating the cost by sections. 
They had divided the whole into three parts. Mr. Geddes sur- 
veyed that part west of Seneca River; Benjamin Wright all 
between Seneca River and Rome, and Mr. Broadhead from 
Rome eastward. They had agreed upon the size of the prism 
of the canal, the dimensions of the locks, bridges, culverts, etc., 
and estimated the aggregate cost at $4,571,813, the whole dis- 
tance three hundred and fifty-three miles, and the total amount 
of lockage, by seventy-seven locks, at 661 35-100 feet. 

March 18th. Mr. Ford, from the Joint Committee of the two 
Houses, reported a Bill, which, with some amendments, became 
a law, April 15th, 181 7; creating a Canal Fund, and constitut- 
ing the State officers Commissioners of that Fund; with author- 
ity to borrow money, and to collect the tax on salt, on steam- 
boat passengers, lotteries, etc., which were appropriated to that 
Fund, and otherwise fixing their duties as such Commissioners. 
This law re-appointed the same Board of Canal Commissioners, 
and authorized them to commence making the canal, to enter 
upon and take any lands, waters and streams necessary for the 
prosecution of the improvements intended by this Act, and to 
make all canals, feeders, dykes, locks, dams and other works, 
as they should think proper. This Act provided for the Ap- 
praisers of the damages which should be caused thereby. 

This ends the legislation which provided the commence- 
ment of the work on the canal. How that was first begun and 
promoted was minutely described to the Club at its last meet- 
ing by my friend Colonel Young. The subsequent action of 
the Commissioners and of the Legislature, relating to the canal. 
is familiar to most of the gentlemen present, and its written 
history would no doubt be more interesting to them than the 
preceding dry details which I have been able to collect to- 
gether; which I trust some gentleman more competent and bet- 
ter able to illustrate historical facts will volunteer to produce. 




Kingston, 13 July, 1792. 

My Dear Sir! — You desire, then, with such ardour, to be 
informed of my opinion, in regard to the settlements on the 
North Western parts of our State, that I will not delay one 
moment longer to gratify you with all the information, which I 
possess on this momentous subject, although I deem it super- 
ficial. I shall join to it a concise diary of my excursion to 
that district. In this I have consulted your wishes with those 
of other friends here and at the other side of the Atlantic. 
Could I now adorn this journal with the embellishments of 
our new and adopted language, and make it as interesting as 
Moore's! ravels, my labour should be well rewarded; but trusting 
on your indulgence, and knowing, that even a faint glimmering 
is desirable, where we are surrounded with darkness, I wave to 
make any further apology 

Fn letters to Col. Adam G. Mappa. See Editor's note at the close. 


The period, perhaps, in which you may judge, that you shall 
promote the interests of your family, by transplanting it from 
your delightful residence on the second River to the western 
wilderness, is not far distance. Perhaps the vivid sense of 
duty and the prospect of future advantages may spurr you, to 
follow the steps of a friend, who, tossed by various cases dis- 
gusted with the battle of public life, and longing to enjoy retire- 
ment, and securing to his Children a permanent tranquil abode, 
searched for an asylum in that part of our State, to which he 
should have been lured by the delightful scenery of that Country 
— by its fertility and the exuberant treasures of its Lakes and 
rivers, could he have induced two or three congenial families 
to share in this enterprize. Every interesting point which I 
communicated to you two years past, when I made a trip to the 
western branch of the Delaware, shall now appear to you in a 
new light and my fanciful description, as thou was pleased to 
caricature it, naked truth: while it shall contribute in its turn, 
to place beyond doubt the continually increasing grandeur and 
incalculable power at which this State — within a few years — 
muse arrive with gigantic strides, if wisdom directs the steps of 
its chil [dren] and convince you, that its western and North- 
western parts, are to be regarded as the main springs of its 
opulence and grandeur, 

Do not expect, my Dear Sir! that I can spread glowing colours 
on the scenery, although I was often fascinated by it. Do not 
look for a picturesque description; do not search for artful 
exertions to cover the nakedness of the land: Xo — This country 
does not want such auxiliaries. A simple diary — a dry account 
of the soil and trees — an incorrect list of the finned tribe in the 
western waters, viz, the few we could catch, comprehends the 
extent to which I can engage myself. I wish to convince you: 
I spurn to take you by surprise. Did I even write in behalt oi 
the Public, then yet I should only exert myself, to express that 
with energy, which I so lively felt, and my uncouth language 
would be persuading would extort the wish from an Eur 



bosom — ah! could I secure a residence in that happy country! 
would compel the opulent miser, to collect his musty Dollars, 
and exchange these for some thousand acres of that wild land. 
Yes, my Dear! I am convinced, that half a dozen wealthy 
Dutch families, with a dozen substantial, industrious farmers 
and expert fishing men, seconded by one hundred Yankees 
might render in a few years, this country the envied spot to the 
oldest and best cultivated parts of the thirteen States. 

The increasing prosperity of our State strikes the eye of 
shortsighted indolence: the foreigner admires our aff[l]uence, 
and our neighbor, the frugal industrious Pennsylvanian should 
ardently wish, that he could transplant the advantages of New- 
York State to his own soil. Now, he often reluctantly leaves 
it, and becomes here indebted for a great part to Nature, which 
he owed before to his prudent State Administration. 

I acknowledge my Dear Sir, that our State constitution is — 
upon the whole — well organised, and the eagle-ey'd friend of 
Liberty discovers only here and there a flaw, which might be 
altered — might be amended — but which nevertheless cannot 
obstruct, cannot disembogue our prosperity through another 

Penn-sylvania's industry — Pennsylvania's progress in agricul- 
ture — in arts and sciences, Penn-sylvania's encouragements to 
cultivate their wild Lands have roused the New-Yorkers from 
their profound sleep — and — perhaps — were a spurr to our public 
councils, to press their steps. Already a beginning is made of 
opening roads to the west, — the streams are covered with 
bridges — and rewards are offered to encourage agriculture, and 
elevate the natural productions of the soil to the highest pos- 
sible perfection. The Bee-hive of New-England is opened — 
and — although our flowery fields may allure many drones in the 
beginning — who even are beneficial in many respects Myriads 
of that enlightened active race shall ere long be amalgamed 
with the old settlers. It may retard awhile the forming of our 
natural Character; it must enhance it^ in other respects. It 


shall blend the virtues, soften the harsh and too much protub- 
erant features of the one and the other, and bring forward, un- 
der God's blessing a virtuous independent, lofty Nation. 

Unincumbered with debts — what is more, a creditor of the 
United States, That of New- York can advance to its indus- 
trious citizens thousands of £, and acquits itself actually of 
this parental charge in a generous manner. It possesses never- 
theless an immense surplus to bestow on its daily expenditures, 
in the digging of canals, clearing the creeks, and erecting 
sluices, without burthening its Inhabitants with taxes, trifling 
ones excepted for the benefit of the individual Counties. 

Our commerce is increasing daily — our merchantmen cross 
every sea — our flag is treated with respect in the Indies, while 
those of the Pacific Ocean have become acquainted with the 
thirteen stripes; so that you may assert with full truth, what 
Caesar did of Pompey's armies, and the nav\ — by which his se- 
cours were cut of [f] — , that no wind can blow or it favours some 
of our vessels. The balance of trade inclines more and more: the 
exchange shall ere long be generally in our advantage: the credit 
of our paper-money, which in 1788 could not be exchanged 
for Cash under 7 pC. is restored, and placed on a par with 
hard Dollars. Ere long — if prudence continues to direct the 
' helm, if the Nation becomes not to[o] soon intoxicated by its 
prosperity, if certain advantages are not sacrificed to visionary 
possibilities, we shall be the carriers of the world — at least 
come in for a full share with the Brittish and the Dutch. The 
manufactures are encouraged more and more, and increase in 
numbers and perfection, and must do so, at least for home 
consumption: the only thing yet wanting is a yet more copi- 
ous population than that which is already an object of surprise. 
while in this peculiar branch of a Nation's wealth the wise 
Politician will not grasp at a shadow to loose reality in posses- 

You know me too well, to suppose, that 1 should underrate 
the value of Manufactures. No Sir ! I am too deeply pene- 


trated of the immense prize which this boon is worth, as soon 
it is attainable — but I do not look out for that period, as long 
we possess thousands of millions of acres, good for tillage — as 
long our population is not proportioned to this immense terri- 
tory — as long the wages are so high, which i*s an unavoidable 
clog — as long every industrious man can become the Lord of 
the soil, can become independent, as long the foreign market 
can afford to send us supplies — even in our own vessels — at a 
lower rate and of a superior quality than what we can manu- 

It is quite another thing, my Dear Sir! that the wealthy 
Patriot generously devotes a small share of his patrimony to 
their encouragement and improvement, so that in time of need, 
we may supply our wants, even if all the parts of the world 
were shut before us, and another thing to risk imprudently his 
all to prop a chimerical theory. It is quite another thing to 
use and encourage these means, to support the widow, the or- 
phan the indigent in the neighbourhood and suburbs of the 
large cities, than to lure the rugged child of the field to the 
loom to the forge and glass-house and persuade the robust 
youth, that he is no more^ free behind his plow or harrow, or 
when he shoulders his axe for the woods than under the eye 
and control of the tax-masters of the voluntary work-house. 
Agriculture is under God's blessing our tutelar genius, and as 
long she goes hand in hand with commerce, as long both are 
encouraged and flourish and prosper, as long the gifts of a 
bountiful God are showered upon us with such a rich profusion, 
I care not — no — let me say more truly, I do not envy, that other 
Nations share in his blessings which are not yet adapted to our 
present situation. 

As soon our treaty of commerce with Great Brittain shall be 
concluded — then the bond of union between the Brethren shall 
be consolidated, and the prayers and praises in Both Countries 
shall ascend to heaven. The Western Forts, so long witheld, 
shall then be surrendered, and the commerce of our State 


receive nourishment from hitherto forbidden springs. The 
State of New- York indeed, though not aiming at dominion 
over the Sister States, possesses so many high prerogatives, that 
she may claim to be at par with the proudest, and if she does 
not imperiously pwetend the Preseance, would humble herself 
too low, could she stoop to carry the train of her fairest sistei. 

Our situation alone, if the products of the country were less 
valuable, would secure to this State an eminent show in our 
National commerce with the Atlantic Ocean to the south, the 
Lakes Champlain, St. George, Ontario, Erie, with the river 
St. Lawrence to the North, with Canada in our rear, New- 
England and the Jerseys to cover our sides, the State seems 
rather to have been fashioned according to the modern system 
of arrondisse?nent than will by Nature, and yet the conqueror's 
sword did not give us one inch. It is our paternal Inheritance. 
The produce of a part of the Jerseys — of a vast deal of New- 
Hampshire, Connecticut — the back parts of Massachusetts with 
the State of Vermont do find our emporium of New-York, the 
most desirable, advantageous market. 

Our inland navigation, superior to that of many, equal already 
to the best watered States of the union, contributes greatly to 
the increase of our commerce. The North, or beautiful Hud- 
son's River, which the Brittish, during our past unnatural war, 
considered as the line of health, in proportion that they ap- 
proached to, or retreated from its borders, navigable to large 
vessels to Hudson, 130 miles above New-York, with sloops of 
from eighty ton and more to Albany — 165 — and many miles 
more high with Bateaux and small rafts : this majestic river 
receives, besides numerous rivulets, more or less navigable, 
above Albany at the Cohoes — a cascade of 67 feet, the Mohawk 
river, meandering thro' fertile fields, from where he originates 
to the north of Fort Stanwix. It was here, that in former days, 
— before our late happy revolution, the Mohawk Indians resided 
from whom it mutuated his name. 

Although the Mohawk becomes navigable for Bateaux at 


no great distance from the Cohoes; all merchandise neverthe- 
less is thus far carried by waggons from Albany to Schenectadi 
— from whence these are convey'd in Bateaux about one hun- 
dred miles, including one mile portage at the Little Falls, to 
Fort Stanwix.* Here is a carrying place of half a mile to the 
wood creek which empties its water, after it is joined by the 
fish-creek, in the Oneyda Lake, as handsome, as rich in fish as 
any lake in the western world. Above fort Brewerton its wa- 
ters disembogue through the Onondaga and Oswego Rivers in 
Lake Ontario, paying all their homage through the St. Law- 
rence to the Atlantic Ocean. 

Our Government, I am informed, has passed a Law to clear 
the navigation from the Mohawk to the Hudson. If this is not 
correct, then it is a prognostication, what it shall, what it ought 
to do at a future time. So much is certain, that it is resolved, 
to open the carrying place between the Mohawk and the wood- 
creek, and to clear the latter from many obstructions. Several 
thousand £ have already been consecrated by the Legislature 
to this salutary undertaking, while subscriptions for the deficit 
have been opened in Albany and New York, with such a suc- 
cess, that they were filled in a few days. See here then, my Dear 
Sir! an easy communication by water-carriage opened between 
the most distant parts of this extensive commonwealth: See 
the markets of New-York, Albany and Schenectadi glutted 
with the produce of the west, and the comforts of the South 
distributed with a liberal hand among the agricultures of this 
new country. The fur trade begins already to revive, shall 
ere long recover her former vigour, when the western Forts 
are surrendered; and, if it remains shared as it naturally must, 
by the North-Western company, this seeming loss shall be fully 
compensated from other branches, grafted in the wants and 
interests of the Canadians. But this is not all sir! It is rather 
the breaking out of the sunshine thro' a morning fog in a charm- 
ing summer day. Fort Stanwix must become a Staple-place of 
the commodities of the west, stored there from the fertile lands, 


bordering the lakes and rivers — and Old fort Schuyler nearly 
the central part of intercourse between the North and West, 
transformed in an opulent mercantile city — where future Lo- 
renzo's will foster and protect arts and sciences — where the 
tomahawk and scalping knife shall be replaced by the scissel 
and pencil of the artist, and the wigwam by marble palaces. 
Do not think, that's dream Sir! 


Si puo, quando si vuole. 

Our canals at the Falls, at fort Stanwix open an early commu- 
nication between the lakes Ontario and Oneyda, which is pos- 
sible, and can thus be executed, and a large part of the work is 
peracted. Go on then, and dig canals through the western 
Destrict, and be not afraid " that a single hair shall be hurt on 
the head of its inhabitants by the waves of lake Erie." Dare 
only to undertake the enterprize, and I warrant the success, — 
or — do you deem it a more arduous undertaking as the canal of 
Languedoc ? and this was performed: Do not answer, I beg 
you, — this was the work of the Grand Monar que : Have you 
forgotten the river the Yssel — the fossa Drusiana? this was the 
work of a Roman General and his army — and are we not, do 
we not pretend at least to be the most enlightened Nation on 
the globe ? Should then a Republican Government — rich in 
men and in wealth shrink to accomplish, what Louis XIV 
executed ? You were more sanguine, when you did lead 
your Patriotic Citizens against the Prussian Myrmidons at the 
Nieiaver S/i/vs, and you are too candid, not to acknowledge 
now, that your hope of success was irretrievably past. Give 
me the disposal of fifty New-York purses — Give me only the 
credit of that city, and I shall do, what others promised in 
florid speeches; or — art thou apprehensive, that the spell of 
your enchantment shall be broken, give me the Republican 
wand of Cajus Popilius, and I will go to the water-nymph 
Erie, and trace a beautiful curve, thro' which her Ladyship 
shall be compelled, to pay a part of her tribute to the ocean 


through the Genesee country — engaging her a courteous attend- 
ance from Lakes and creeks, to wait on Her Grace during this 
extorted excursion — and leaving her the consolation of the 
Doge of Genoa at the French court, to admire no object but 
herself, during her course, through our country — to the Hudson 

Our agriculture is considerably improved, although much is 
yet wanted — before it can be compared to what is performed 
in Europe. Nine tenths of our farmers possess often double 
and treble the Land, than which they can or pretend to culti- 
vate. It is a too generally prevalent system, to be rather con- 
tented with the crop, which the field spontaneously yields, than 
to aim at a richer harvest, obtainable by a more industrious 

The example of the Pennsylvanians — the thousands of New- 
England men, who, flocking annually in this State, ameliorate 
our husbandry, improve our stock, and transform our wood- p 
lands in productive fields, the creation — and if any thing does, 
it deserves this name — the creation of an Agricultural Society 
at New- York — a similar association at Albany — the offered 
premiums to the largest produce of Maple-Sugar — that blessing 
of Heaven to the back-countries — little inferior to the Sugar- 
cane of the West-Indies — the encouraging acts of our Legisla- 
ture, in opening new roads, and other beneficial plans, yet in 
embryo — all this united had altered our agriculture. 

How could it be any other way, my Dear Sir! there the rich- 
ness of the soil pays tenfold our industry — there the climate is 
temperate, mild — nearly as that in the Netherlands. The pop- 
ulation is generally in our States — principally in New-England 
— in this State, peculiarly in its western parts, baffling all im- 
agination. A marriage without issue is a rare Phenomenon — 
from five to nine is no unusual number of children — often a 
dozen and more. 

The fertility of our soil, principally in the Western Destrict, 
where one acre often produces as much as three in any other 


part of the State — our inland navigation — abundance of fish — 
of fuel, our well. regulated State Government, maintaining ev- 
ery one by his religious as well as civil rights — admitting no 
privileged Church, nor loading an unbelieving herd with taxes 
for its support, lure yearly whole shoals of New-England men 
and Europeans to settle in this State or Pennsylvania. 

Here the crops but seldom fail; the long winters so fatal in 
the Southern States, are here seldom injurious, as the snow re- 
mains till the earth begins to be adorned again with a fresh 
tapestry. Wheat, corn, oats, Barley, rye, Potatoes, with every 
kind of garden vegetables and orchard fruits — the water-melon 
— the cantaloup — the grape not excluded, arrive in the West- 
ern and often in the Northern parts of this State — to perfec- 

The increasing population, the rage of speculation in land, 
by Americans, Dutch and Englishmen, double actually the 
value of the lands. An acre sold four years since, from i to 6 
shill., is now valued at ten. I speak of woodland; cultivated 
farms have risen from ^£4 to 6, and this prize is doubled in the 
neighbourhood of villages. 

Every family does increase the value of the adjacent unculti- 
vated Lands, and five and twenty of the hundred farms, sold 
at one Dollar per acre, augment the prize of the remaining 75 
to sixteen shillings, while the sale of 25 more — the soil being 
equal, doubles it yet four or five times. 

The Western parts of this State Sir ! are now generally con- 
sidered, as its richest and most valuable part, which spurrs 
every fore-handed man, to appropriate a part of it to himself 
or his Children. It is nevertheless to be regretted, although 
this hindrance is compensated again by some great advantages, 
that few Individuals become owners of such immense tracts, 
by which, as soon they have made some nourishing establish- 
ments — they are enabled to encrease the prize of the remain- 
der, arbitrarily — but — here too avarice betrays often the pos- 
sessor. The prudent landholder blends the public interests 


with his own — reaches in both his aim, becomes the benefactor 
of a country, which repays him with usury ; is their father, 
who are delighted in his welfare and opulence, and obliges his 
country, by multiplying its useful citizens, augmenting the 
products of the land, and increasing the wealth of the State. 

Justice requires, as I hinted the disadvantages of a few 
great Landholders, owning more acres of Land than many /—■ 
Princes and Dukes in Germany, that I mention the favorable 
side of this question. They open generally with enormous 
expenses the roads, erect mills, make liberal advances to the 
honest industrious settler, and make his payments easy. Be- 
sides — a few of these have resolved to settle in the wilderness 
and allure by their example, many respectable families, to press 
tfreir steps. 

All this shall, I hope, Dear Sir! convince you that the west- 
ern parts of this State shall be settled within a few years — that 
the actual owners of the land must become independent, and 
that every industrious family, which invest her small property 
in a good farm, if it continues to exert itself must, under God's 
blessing, ere long be at ease and in affluence. 

I am yours, 

Kingston, 19 July, 1792. 


Kingston, 27 July, 1792. 

My Dear Sir! — I asserted, when I had lately the pleasure 
of seeing you, that I did not boast, when I assured you in my 
last letter, that the western counties were the best part, and 
would be ere long the most potent part of our State in every 
sense of the word: — that it can not fail, or every judicious 
Landholder in the western Destrict who is acquainted with the 
value of his lands, who knows, when he may sell, and when his 
interest requires to put a stop to his sales, must acquire a con- 
siderable fortune within 25 years — or — that every independent 
family, which makes a purchase there, and retains in reserve 
a surplus, to supply it in the beginning with articles of the 
first necessity, and smooth the ruggedness of their new career, 
by what the convenience and comfort of a family requires, 
may within six years be as much at ease, as in any other 
part of the State and shall be plentifully rewarded by the 
fruits of their labours, and secure to their children — even 
during the life of their parents, an independent station. I 
might have said — which 1 know could not be an inducement 
to you — that seats in both houses of the Legislature, offices of 
honour and trust, are of course allotted to men of any respect- 
ability, if this glitter has any charms in their eye. 

You may recollect Sir! that when I communicated to you 
my excursion to the western branch of the Delaware, I inform- 
ed you of some particularities, relating to the settlements of 
that part of our western world — which drew forth a few others 
with regard to Dutchess and Ulster county. These may be 
subservient to illustrate my assertions in favour of the west. 
The situation of Dutchess, now one of the most populous 
counties, was fifty years past not more favourable, than that 
of many parts of the western Destrict at present. Mr. Livings- 
ton, then Clerk of that county could scarce afford to keep a 
horse from the emoluments of his office, while now his annual 
perquisites exceed jQ~}oo. 


The families of Livingston, Eeeckman, van Renselaer, van 
Cortland, Schuyler, in one word, all the powerful families of 
this State, merchants excepted, acquired their actual wealth 
and respectability by the purchase of new lands, and their 
judicious settlements on these. I should not have been sur- 
prised, my Dear Sir ! had a certain respectable family suc- 
ceeded in the purchase of Rosevelts tract, or we should have 
seen ere long an elegant country seat on the banks of Lake 
Oneyda, encircled at some distance by well cultivated farms. 

You would have fostered a similar opinion, with this differ- 
ence only, that it would have been generally more favorable, 
as you was, during the last years of your residence in Europe — 
better inured by fatigue than your friend, could you, as I did 
hope, have accompanied him on this journey. 

His excellency Geo. Clinton thought so, and joined our 
names together in all the letters of recommendation, with 
which his kindness honoured me again, as he was wonted to 
do in former excursions. 

I remained long in suspense, before I could resolve, in what 
manner I should undertake the expedition — either with a sloop 
to Albany, then with a waggon to Schenectadi and so ascend 
the Mohawk in a Bateau — or — with a chair to Schenectadi — or 
at once on horseback to fort Stanwix : ease pleaded for one 
of the former; my preference was given to a chair — but the 
impossibility to obtain one here in any way and the apprehen- 
sion that the Sloop and Bateau would require a vast deal of 
time — more than 1 could have allotted to this excursion — made 
me at length resolve — although with reluctance — to go on horse- 
back. Since 1773, when I asked my demission from the Dutch 
cavallery, I had not rode a horse, except in 1788, from Alexan- 
dria to Mount- Vernon, when 1 visited General Washington. 
Now it was a journey of nearly two hundred miles. But — I 
was resolved : my good neighbor provided me with a saddle, 
and other accoutrements of a Cavalier. I risked to take one 
of my own horses, and proceeded slowly on. You art acquainted 


with all these parts so far as the house of the widow of Ph. 
Schuyler, so that I cannot communicate any thing deserving 
your attention. Now and then I ventured to trot a few rods, 
but soon permitted the horse to resume his easy pace. 

About noon I had passed the Grooten Imbogt about twenty 
miles from home, went on, after dinner to Cats-kill 6c took tea 
by Mr. Bogardus at the Landing, which is indeed a very agre- 
,able spot. 

The increasing population of the Western Country give birth 
to this little hamlet on the North-river : several merchants 
from New-England and this State had established themselves 
there ; last year their number was augmented to twenty, — and 
this year seventeen new buildings — houses and stores — were 
finished. The situation is indeed delightful, on the banks of 
a large creek, and not far distant from the North-river — very 
well adapted for trading with the western country. 

The soil has nothing extraordinary to recommend it, — neither 
was it chosen on this account by the first settlers ; their views 
were farther extended : They did fore see, that even barren 
rocks, which by no means is the case, might under the vivifying 
influence of commerce, render these a comfortable habitation. 
The Inhabitants were chiefly respectable men, while the family 
of Mr. Bogardus peculiarly might have tempted you and me to 
fix our residence on that spot, could we have contemplated it, 
on our arrival from Europe, so as it now appears. 

Towards evening I rode on to Coughsagie and stopt at the 
house of John Bronk, persuaded, after having travelled forty 
miles at the first onset, that I could accomplish my purpose. 
My supper was but indifferent — tea, bread and butter with a 
bit of warmed mutton — but, in full compensation of it the mis- 
tress of the house was very civil. Next morning I went to 
Albany, where I met with a cordial reception at l>r. Marcius, 
whose hospitality, frankness and amiable character leave you 
scarce time to do justice to his professional merits. 

Every instant the decision oi the election of a new Governour 


was expected, and, as the city was pretty equally divided be- 
tween the two illustrious Candidates Clinton and Jay, a painful 
anxiety was legible on every countenance. At eight o'clock it 
was known with certainty, that George Clinton was reelected 
for the sixth time. The joy of his friends was more moderate, 
than might have been conjectured from the ardent zeal, with 
which they had patrocinated this high respected statesman — 
while the friends of Mr. Jay, spurred by the noblest motives in 
promoting his election with all their strength, knew too well 
their interests and duty to disturb it. This is the genuine 
spirit of Republicanism — but alas ! too seldom listened to. In 
the morning at four o'clock the sound of the guns proclaimed 
the Governour's election to the neighbourhood. 

On friday morning I rode on to Schenectadi where I spend 
a few hours with the Rev. Romeyn — one of the learned and 
eminent Divines of the Reformed Church in this State, beloved 
by his flock, respected by the most respectable in the State, as 
a man, a citizen and a Christian Preacher. 

He communicated to me many important observations with 
regard to the soil — the stupendously increasing population of 
the western country with its vast increasing strength. Without 
Albany, without the commerce of New-York, continued he 
pleasantly, the South of the State might soon become an append- 
age to the West. With a lively extasy he expatiated on all its 
advantages, and give me with his usual accuracy a picturesque 
description of the various settlements on the Mohawk. He 
praised the luxuriant fields on this river — dwelled with delight 
on the Towns of German-flatts and Herkimer — but Schoharie he 
called a terrestiat paradise, and described its farmers amongst 
the wealthiest and happiest Inhabitants of New- York State. He 
assured me, that 1500 families passed by his house, during the 
winter of 91 to various parts of the Western Lands; while I 
was afterwards informed by another credible witness, that, 
during the winter of 90 — within 40 miles of this River point — 
where the rivers of Onondago, Seneca, and Oswego are joined, 



had been counted 240 span oxen. I proceeded after 
dinner about twenty miles further, stopt a few mo- 
ments at the ancient residence of Sir William, now oc- 
cupied by Mr. Jacob Cuyler, and remained at night on Trip's 
hill at Mr. Putman's six miles from Cognawojha. On Satur- 
day morning I breakfeasted at Simon Veeder's Esq rode on 
eight miles further to Bankert's inn, and arrived about noon at 
the mansion of the respectable widow of Col. Phil. Schuyler in 
Palatine-Town. Here I met with a cordial reception: Mrs 
Schuyler appeared most interested in the welfare of Mrs. v. d. 
k. and our John, who with us four years past had been enter- 
tained under her hospitable roof. I was again much pleased 
with her animated intelligent conversation and gathered more 
real information from a desultory discourse, than I might have 
received from an elaborate discussion of a Philosopher, who 
had never seen the country. She informed me too of the best 
houses on the road. 

After dinner I crossed the Mohawk, three miles above Pala- 
tine-Town, & did see Canojohari — which name, although I 
cannot now interpret, yet I hope to have it in my power after 
a while. You recollect that sample of a Canadian song 

Cani dejouve, cani de jouvf, He He He, He ho 
heura heura on ce be* 

In the Diction: de Musi que. If you can explain this, you too 
may give the Etymology of this place. After a ride of seven 
miles farther, I tarried at a ci-devant Indian castle, now a very 
recommendable inn, kept by Mr. Hudzon, to drink a dish of 
superior good tea. It was my design to proceed to Herkemer, 
as I was informed, that I was to meet there a good reception — 
but — my good horse was scarce able to lift one foot before the 


Cani de jou-vc c.ui-i de jou-ve He-He-He, Hc-Ho Heu-ra beu-ra on 


other. Consider further, — that this good beast — by often go- 
ing and returning, to examine one or other object a little more 
carefully — by alhvays pacing even on the roughest road, was 
thoroughly fatigued — that the sun was set — that I was ignorant 
of the road, and — as you would say, not much to be trusted 
where I knew it — and that above this all Cap 1 Bellinger, the 
Landlord of a homely tavern endeavoured to persuade me, 
that I ought to stay with him — because he said — the horse 
could not proceed further, that tomorrow, if he might now re- 
cruit, it would make it up with a double speed, and then re- 
flecting, that the Cavalier lounged for rest as much as his beast 
— you can not be surprised that your friend yielded so soon to 
the urgent entreaties of that noble captain. My supper was 
not above mediocrity, my bed and sleep of the first rate. The 
hope of repairing my loss of the evening by a good breakfeast 
made me stirr early, so that I arrived at eight at Mr. Aldritz — 
in former days another Indian castle. 

The respectable appearance of the Landlord and his Lady; 
their dress, countenance, manners, language, the furniture, the 
neatness of the house, the order and promptitude, with which 
the commands were executed, soon convinced me, that my 
conjecture would not dwindle away in a airy vision. Good 
bread and butter, excellent tea, fresh eggs, with a dish of 
Salmon Trout, — a sort of European Forel, — worthy to be pre- 
sented to the best men in the State, were more than sufficient 
to satisfy a craving hunger. 

Now was I in Herkimer — crossed again the Mohawk, paced 
slowly through the German Flatts — a beautiful plain, whose 
rich fertility must strike even the inattentive eye, from the 
charming fields covered with all sorts of grain: here wheat, 
corn, potatoes, there oats, peas, barley, there again another 
variety of the same products — at intervals surrounded or sepa- 
rated with clover. These flatts, — terminated from one side by 
the Mohawk from the other by the rising hills, at whose bottom 
the farm houses and churches were constructed — maintain 


many thousands descendents of native Germans, who searching 
a refuge from infatuated despotism in this Land of Liberty, 
have chiefly preserved the manners, language and religion of 
their ancestors. The same is true, with regard to their neigh- 
bours in German-town and Herkimer — all of German origine, 
somewhat tempered with Brittish, Dutch and American blood. 
Col. Staringh was the man, by whom I intended to dine, if it 
was obtainable. Although his Honour was at the same time a 
Judge of the Common-pleas — thus high in civil and military 
grandeur — yet he kept a public house, and my imagination was 
soon highly inflamed, when I glanced at his mansion and its 
appurtenances. The Colonel was gone to the meeting; his barn 
was the place of worship. I went thither; the assembled con- 
gregation was very numerous: our Lord's Supper was celebrated 
with decency, and, as it appeared to me, by many with fervent 
devotion. Four children were baptised by the Rev. Rozen- 
krantz of the German-Flatts, who made this pastoral visit, to 
direct these religious solemnities. After service the flock 
crowded promiscuously in the Colonel's house, and used spar- 
ingly some refreshments. The large majority gloried at the 
renewed election of George Clinton, while the weighty princi- 
ple of many was " Now certainly the courthouse should be 
fixed there, as they had generally given their votes for George, 
while very many on the German-Flatts, with the same motive 
— with the same hope had been lured to vote for John Jay. So 
wantonly plays the multitude with that for every free-man so 
precious privilege of election: for travelling a mile more or 
less — yea for thousand times more pityful, if not for more 
contemptible motives is nominal liberty transformed in actual 
slavery. I cannot see it or I bewail the general state of man- 
kind! How divine is the theory! how different, how unattain- 
able nearly the solid practice of a pure popular Government, 
except among a poor, vertuous, within its rocks limity [limited ?] 
family of brothers as in Switzerland, We, my Hear Sir! paid 
rtearlv for our visionary schemes of perfection — and I do not 


yet regret it, as we found here Liberty blended by Laws, and so 
much Aristocracy rendered constitutional, that neither the one 
nor the many can do wrong — for a long time, and so much 
Democracy saved, as to keep the remainder from degenerating 
and degrading herself; while I deem him a miscreant, who 
abuses this good by name, to spread a cloak over his nefar- 
ious ambitious views — till he sees the road open to crush the 
few and the many together. May Adams Defence become a 
general School-book, and his lessons brought in practice. 

The presence of the Rev. Pastor — the solemnity of the 
sacred festival — the presence of the Fathers of the baptised 
children — some of them related to the colonel, procured me a 
good dinner. A very good Soup — Salade roasted Chickens 
— beef and pork — with bread and butter were soon destroy'd 
by 15 or 16 hungry guests. The Rever. Rosekrantz was born 
in the Dutchy of the Paltz-Tvveebruggen, from a respectable 
family of Swedish origine. Endowed with a learned education 
he was not a stranger in elegant literature — a serious preacher 
who knew the art to enliven Society with a well regulated 

At nine miles distance, near old fort Schuyler I crossed the 
Mohawk-river for the last time — took my tea at Mr. John 
Post, reached Whites-borough about evening, and stopt at the 
house of Judge White, the Father of this flourishing settle- 
ment; to whom and Mr. Jonas Piatt his Exc. Geo. Clinton had 
favoured me with Letters of introduction. 

I met on the road to Whites-borough, a group of Oneyda In- 
dians — some of them on horseback, others walking and jump- 
ing — the one with a bottle, another with a jug or small keg 
with rum — for the most part merrily jolly — some deeply soaked 
by the beverage, distilled from the cane. Their numbers in- 
creased in proportion I approached nearer Whitesborough. 
There I saw about two hundred of every age and of both sexes 
around their tires near the road, eating, drinking, smoking, 
singhing, laughing, all then in perfect harmony together, though 


many a little before had tried their strenght and agility upon 
one another. 

The occasion of this unusual concours was, that they came, 
to receive the corn from the State, which had been stipulated 
in one of the articles of the late Treaty. But they soon 
changed this corn certainly for a large part, by the merchants 
for money, which they changed again for chintzes, silk hanker- 
chiefs, linen &c. 

How longer and oftener I contemplate these Indian tribes, 
how more I am confirmed in my conjecture, which was sup- 
ported by Buffon "that the Northerly Inhabitants of America, 
as well as a large part of those in the South, are chiefly, have 
the blood of Tartar origine in their veins. By this I will not 
say, that none of the offspring of the Aborigines of this country 
are remaining — neither that the Inhabitants of some parts may 
not be the offspring of savage tribes, driven before these Tar- 
tarian Hordes from their native scenes on the confines of the 
North-eastern Asiatic shores — no more, as I would contest, 
that a few Islanders, even Norwegians might have been induced 
or compelled to settle on the Northern parts of the American 
continent. Manners, language, features render it rather plaus- 
ible ; but to conclude for these reasons with Grotius — that stu- 
pendous wonder of learning, of whom might be asserted, what 
Licias said of Cato 4< that his intellectual endowments were 
so extensive, that he excelled in whatever he undertook, and 
seemed to devot himself exclusively to that science" that our 
country was colonized by Norwegians, and extort arguments 
from Etymology — you might as well derive Alfana from 

Michaelis may convince you that the ten tribes could not 
have searched here an asylum, and I dare assert, that — had this 

'Alfana vient & % Eqmns\ vans doutc 
Mais, il faut avouer .mssi 
qui, on venant de lajusqu icy 
11 a bien change sur la route 

/'. BenkoHrs Man. de bien pc — e t 
Dial, ii R^. « 75. 


hypothesis been based on a solid foundation — there would yet 
exist uncontrovertable proofs. Perhaps I may glance at this 
topic at some future day and then you will judge — with what 

I dout not, my Dear Mappa! or I shall convince you, of the 
plausibility of this cherished hypothesis, when I have time 
to collect my arguments, as the Chancellor Livingston desired, 
and put these in battle array, among my Philos. Res. on the 
theories of Buff on and Jefferson — and, if then I may be so suc- 
cessful, to render it probable that the Gauls — the Franks — the 
Celts, originated all from the same immensely prolific bee-hive, 
then nothing is wanting but correct Genealogical tables to 
prove to the first fair Squaw — and there are handsome ones in- 
deed — if you make some small allowances — that we are distant 

The greatest part of the Indians whom I have seen, are tall 
and robust, with strong well shaped limbs, broad foreheads, 
the nose somewhat curved, the ears long and broad, deformed 
by art. 

Several of the Oneydas speak the English language very 
correctly, as I am informed, and many too write it. Peter 
Otzagert, who, delegated to congress, died this year on his 
journey, had been for some time in France with the Marquis 
La Fayette, was, in some respects, highly cultivated, and mas- 
ter of the French language and politeness, although it was 
doubted if his heart was as improved as his head, at least, he 
has been accused, that he did learn to blend the vices of the 
savages with those of a polished nation. So true it appears 
with regard to those unhappy tribes, that if their Fathers did 
eat sour grapes, their children's teeth have become dull indeed, 
and it may be justly questioned, if the vicinity of their white 
neighbors is to them not rather a curse than a blessing. How 
contrary is this with the genuine spirit of Christianity! but, 
what chemical operation is powerful enough, to extract it from 
Indian Traders, and straggling borderers! Captain Jacob 


Reed speaks and writes with tolerable accuracy, shews a bold 
and courageous appearance and dresses as a white man, but 
now too, I delineated his chief worth. Beach-tree, their chief, 
had the greatest influence over them. 

The cradles of their babes are of a curious workmanship, 
often lined with silver plates, ornamented with silver-rings, and 
wrapt in sillk. Their principal merchandise are furrs, with 
whose value they are thoroughly acquainted. The principal 
are those of Beavers (Fishers) Hespans [?], or Racoons, Martins, 
Musk-rats, Minks, Beavers and Deer-skins. 

Judge White was commissioned, to distribute among them 
the stipulated grain. He is a man, between 50 and 60 years of 
age, of middle stature, corpulent, and of a comely appearance. 
He enjoys now that exquisite gratification of being the Creator 
of his own fortune, and placing all his children in an independ- 
ent situation. Judge White resided in Connecticut in the year 
1785. He made a journey to the Western parts of this State, 
made a purchase of the land, he now lives on ; moved thither 
in 1786 with his five sons, build a loghouse and barn; went 
the next year for his wife and remaining children, although 
there was not at that time one single white man in the nine 
miles around him. In 1788 he constructed a saw and gristmill, 
possessed in the 4th year, all which he wanted for his conven- 
ience, ease and comfort in abundance, build in the fifth year 
a convenient frame house and substantial barn, and is now 
encircled by a number of respectable families — amongst these 
two of his married sons, and Mr. Jonas Piatt, son of Judge 
Zephaniah Piatt — married with Miss H. Livingston — a sister of 
that eminent Divine in N. York — who yet recollects with a 
grateful remembrance the time he spent at the Dutch Uni- 

I deem the acquaintance of this young man a real acquisi- 
tion, for which I am again indebted to our friend G. Clinton. 
I have often indeed been surprised with admiration at his 
knowledge of men, which is a distinguishing trait of his charac- 


ter — and, in my opinion, one of the chief means of his Political 
success. His Exc : had a high opinion of young Piatt, and 
spoke of him in the most flattering terms. This prompted 
me to observe him, and I was not disappointed. The little 
intercourse I could enjoy with Mrs. Piatt, both being then in a 
state of anxiety about their only infant, which, in my opinion 
shall never recover, prompts me to say little about her, except, 
that I was highly pleased with her courteous and kind recep- 
tion. I am persuaded, I could not do Her full justice. It is 
quite otherwise with her Husband. I presume to say, I knew 
him, how short our intercourse was, and dare assure, that if 
ever thou art favoured with a similar opportunity, you will love 
and respect Him. So much ingenuity and modesty without 
bashfulness — so much frankness and candour without boasting 
• — vanterie, such obliging manners without importunely obtrud- 
ing his civilities, such a comprehensive mind, such an intuitive 
solid judgment, all this combined shewed him the man, who 
sooner or later must become the pride of the barr, the glory of 
the Bench and a chief ornament of our state, so that I really 
consider the pitiful pittance of his present clerq-ship not as a 
reward, but a temporary station, in which he is to hoard up 
intellectual treasures, to develop these unexpectedly before his 
fellow-citizens, and prepare a most delicious repast by his 
achievements for his aged and Revered Patron. 

The society here is already pleasing; so is the situation of 
this little village, more adapted for the enjoyment of rural 
retirement, than luring in a commercial point of view. The 
houses are more build for convenience than for show: the 
roads are daily improving, of which you may form a partial 
opinion from the fact, that while I was here, Mr and Mrs Liv- 
ingston came in their own carriage in four days from Pough- 
keep to Whitesborough. 

That I do not exaggerate, to render you enamoured with this 
charming country, one proof shall be sufficient. By the last 
census the number of souls in Whites-town was 57SS — a stu- 


pendous number indeed within the small circle of five years. 
In Whites-borough self there is scarce an acre for sale. Dr 
Mosely paid for three acres, for a building spot ^50 per acre. 

The soil is a fertile rich loam — from 30 to 45 Bushels Indian 
corn per acre is an ordinary crop ; often it gives 50, 60 and 
more. In some parts by long droughts the soil is apt to bake 
and rent, and require thus more labour, shall it be cultivated 
with propriety and success. One of your Zeeland farmers 
would not consider this as a formidable objection, well know- 
ing that his exertions should be doubly compensated. There 
are here nevertheless, some too, who are willing to reap, but 
not in the sweat of their brow. 

The article of fish is scarce, the firewood has already become 
an object of so much importance that it is saved, and sold to 
advantage, and salt cannot be obtained below a Dollar the 

I crossed about two miles from Whites borough the Oriskany- 
creek, where many of the Oneyda Indians resided in former 
days. The actual proprietors of the soil did long decline the 
sale — the prize was yet too low — at lenght it hath rizen to their 
pitch; several farms have already been taken up, and the woods 
resounded, when I passed there, from the strokes of the hardy 
Axe-men. One year more, and the one farm shall be joined 
to the other as here on the Esopus-kill. 

I had only advanced a few steps, when my attention was 
fixed on a number of skulls, placed in a row on a log in the 
road. I was informed by the work-men, that this place was 
the fatal spot, on which the murderous encounter happened 
between General Herkemer with his sturdy associates, and the 
Indians, when this brave and gallant soldier did fall with a 
number of his men. He shewed me a large tree, on which was 
coarsely carved something resembling a man's head, which 
should represent this intrepid Warrior. 

On Monday about noon I arrived at Fort Stanwix, The 
Huron De Xeng, industriously employed in laying out a kitchen- 


garden, had already seen me. and give me a cordial wel-come. 
He then introduced me to Col. Colbreath, a revolutionary 
soldier, who priding himself in the patronage of his old general, 
resided on a part of the estate, which the Governour possessed 
in this neighborhood. He had offered the Baron a part of his 
house, till that of De Zeng should be cleared of its present In- 
habitants. We partook of some refreshments — my horse was 
brought on a luxuriant pasture ground. 

See there me, my Dear Sir ! at the famous Fort Stanwix, 
where Ganzevoort baffled the impetuous ardour of the Brittish, 
and Col. Willet eluded their vigilance. See here me in the 
centre of New-York State — the elevated spot, from where the 
waters are flowing, to the East and the West — chalked out, as 
it were, by nature, to become the seat of Government of this 
, mighty State, while fort Schuyler must gradually rise to the rank 
of the emporium of the west. Here is the ear tingling from the 
bustle of business, while the opulence and wealth is through 
various channels conducted to this great reservoir, to repay the 
Inhabitants of its neighborhood with those of the remotest 
North and west with ease and comfort — there magnificent build- 
ings raised, and a seat prepared for arts and sciences. 

The Baron de Zeng, a German Nobleman, descends from a 
noble family in Saxony, and arrived in America during the 
revolutionary war. He was married to a respectable Lady in 
New-York, and did now intend to begin a settlement in this 
vicinity. He had engaged to accompany me on this tour, and 
I expected, as I really experienced, that he not only should be 
an agreeable companion, but very useful to me in many respects. 

The Baron was so kind, to charge himself to purchase a 
grand canoe, engage two servants and procure the required 
provisions for our voyage. As he had before roved through 
this wilderness, he knew best, what was wanting to lessen the 
hardships of a similar enterprize ; and I must do him the justice, 
that he left nothing untried to procure every article, which 
might make our journey more agreable. A well made tent 



with a good carpet stood foremost on the list, and his spouse 
took care, that a sufficient quantity of bread and biscuit was 
prepared. While all this was brought in readiness, I had the 
satisfaction to explore the country, to examine the woods with 
the contemplated state for the canal, to join the Mohawk with 
the wood-creek, and convince myself of its easy practicability. 
But this is only the dwarf, fixing his eyes upward to the gigantic 
canal, yet in embryo. The soil differs little from that of Whites- 
town, except the summit of the Highland, on which the Fort 
is erected, generally not less fertile, often too rich for wheat, 
as the first crop — not free from baking, several feet deep 
of the same unadulterated fertile mould as the uppermost 
layer. By digging 10 and 12 feet, often deeper, leaves perfectly 
preserved — branches of trees — large pieces of timber are dis- 
covered. I did see several samples of all these, when a well 
was dug for Col. Colbreath. Elm, Ash, beach, heavy oak and 
wall-nut are in the upper part, on the lower ground chiefly 
beach, maple and birch. As no apparent obstruction is visible, 
the canal may be executed nearly in a straight line. 

Scarce a day passed, in which not two sometimes three Bat- 
eaux arrived, whose destination was towards the Genesee- 
Lands — Onondago, Cadaraqui or other parts of the Western 
Destrict : we met daily with groups of five or six men on horse 
back, in search for land, with intention, if succeeding, to move 
on with their families the next winter or following spring, while 
every day one or other accosted us to purchase lands, of which 
we did not own one single inch. 

During the time I tarried here, a large Bateau with furs 
arrived from the west : two yoke of oxen carried it over the 
portage. This was the second cargo within one week. It may 
be conjectured from this single example, what riches the waters 
of Oneyda-Lake may carry on to Fort Stanwix, if every obstruc- 
tion shall be removed. Now it makes a fortune to Individuals, 
then it shall become as productive to the Nation as a Gold-mine. 

We waited another day. in the hope of a few refreshments, 


which I had procured at Schenectadi — but at length our 
patience being exhausted, although De-Zeng was possessed of 
a deep fund of it, nearly equal to that of your friend! we 
walked on Saturday towards the wood- creek — see our baggage 
stowed — stept in the canoe, and pushed off. 

Do you recollect Mappa ! how Remus vexed his brother 
Romulus, by springing over the ditches, with which he had 
encircled the future mistress of the world? here certainly 
might he have endulged his whim with less perill. No Oneyda 
Indian, no valiant American would have considered his country 
insulted by this prowess. The wood-creek indeed resembles 
at the landing place rather an insignificant ditch than well a 
navigable stream. Ere long it is, nevertheless, enlarged, and 
resembles very much the numberless inland waters, by which 
our ci-devant Father Land was intersected. We arrived at the 
distance of three miles at Fort Bull — or rather at the place, on 
which during the war a Fort of that name was erected. The 
same fact I found often verified, on places designated by names 
originating from fortifications constructed during the late . 
French, or the Revolutionary wars. 

As we indulged ourselves from time to time in angling, we 
hooked a few trout and several large chubs, without reflecting, 
that the sun was setting, our lusty boys waded continually, to 
drag our deeply loaded canoe over rifts and shoals. At once 
the air was darkened, which was rendered of a deeper hue by 
the streams of lightning, with which it was on a sudden as 
embroidered: severe peals of thunder re-echoed through the 
woods, and the increasing darkness became now visible. The 
boys were discouraged; De Zeng sprung at once out the canoe, 
and inspired them with fresh courage, and your friend? I 
trusted in their experience, and hoped their trial would be a 
short one, and then they might rest from their labours — while 
the Baron ought to pay some prize, of not possessing his souL 
in equal patience. 

Now we proceeded quickly and discovered after a few min- 


utes a light in a small cottage. It was that of the widow- 
Armstrong,* on the corner of the wood and Canada-creek, 
seven miles from Fort Stanwix — the point of land, where Rose- 
veld's purchase begins, with which you and some of my best 
friends desire to become acquainted, and which, if I am not 
mistaken and disappointed in my wishes, may become a goodly 
heritage, under God's Almighty blessing for us and our children. 
As we are now engaged in drying our clothes by a good fire, 
and Mrs Armstrong is preparing our supper and couches, I 
must allow you a little rest, before I offer you my rough sketch 
of the skirts of that noble tract, once the heritage of the 
Oneidas, now the object of ardent loungings of Americans and 
Foreigners, who by every licet and illicet means by extravagant 
praises and unfounded slanders, endeavour to secure this pos- 
session to themselves, while some squatters have fixed them- 
selves here and thereon its borders, a tract, which in population 
and wealth must vie in time with any part of the Western 


I am 

Yours sincerely, 


Kingston i Aug. 1792. 

My Dear Sir! You followed our steps Sir? through the 
meandering wood-creek to the spot, where the Canada creek 
empties in it — the residence of Mrs Armstrong, thus far the 
hospitable Patroness of that insulated spot. I really hope, my 
Dear Sir! that you may have been able to keep your attention 
awake, otherwise it must become a more than Herculean 
labour to drive the sleep from your eyes by a dry topographi- 
cal description. I really am apprehensive, that the wish of 
getting rich by the purchase of a few hundred thousand acres 
of this land cannot make a sufficiently deep impression on 
your disinterestedness, even if your purse was in unison with 
such a wish. I hope at all events it shall not exceed a slum- 
bering, not heavier than mine on horse-back, awakening the 
instant, when I was leaning half ways from the saddle; and in 
that case I am not without hope, or the fall of an heavy oak, 
the report of our guns — our crys of joy on a catched prey of 
fish or deer, the lamentations and curses of our crew and every 
real or imaginary danger shall break of [fj the spell of the en- 
chantment of some fair or malignant sorceress, and permit 
you to contemplate the Feen-Residence of the beautiful 
Oneyda Lake with admiration. 

It is a general observation with regard to this world, and I 
am yet wavering to decide, if the name of New or old is the 
most appropriate, that the most barren tracts are every where 
near the sea-coast — that the most populous part of the fifteen 
states, which have been settled in the beginning cannot be 
compared with the extensive fertile fields of the West, and 
that their natural productiveness and riches are increasing in 
proportion, that you penetrate deeper in the interior. Every 
traveller confirms this truth; and every new settlement affords 
so many incontestible proofs from the unusual produce of the 
fields as well, as by the sudden increase of the lands, to con- 
firm these reports. 



No man dared yet to contest this truth, except a few Ger- 
man Inhabitants on the rich borders of the Mohawk before 
the revolutionary war, believing — in which they were confirmed 
by the cunning artifices of their great Landholders and crafty 
Politicians, that their Paradis was surrounded by unsurmount- 
able barriers — being no habitable spot above Canajohari — im- 
penetrable except by a savage's foot, except by Brittish Cana- 
dians, who dreaded the neighborship of Americans — except 
Land-jobbers, aiming at a cheap purchase by artfully under- 
valuing the Land. 

The tract, with which I would make you better acquainted, 
was purchased two years past from the Six Nations, and be- 
gins at the wood-creek, where that of the Canada creek joins 
it. It has to the North-East Funda's purchase, to the South 
and South west the Oneyda reservation — the military lands, 
now beginning to be settled, to the North west Lake Ontario — 
to the North the great Salmon-creek, from which it touches 
again Funda's purchase, in a North Eastern course. See here 
then the rough circumference of 6 or 700,000 acres. Consider 
my Dear Sir! if I might err somewhat in a due course, and 
take the east for the west, that I am yet in the infancy of my 
geological expedition — and am ready to say Peccavi Pater: not 
however in that bewitching tune, I heard you sing — ''Man 
pere y je devient vant vous — To prevent gross mistakes, and se- 
cure you of forming an erroneous opinion of my statements 
I send you with this a pretty correct map, which, with the as- 
sistance of that of Geo. Pownall may learn you in how far I 
was successful. 

A simple statement of course is sufficient to lay open the 
water-communication with all the circumjacent lands: — By 
the Wood-creek to the Mohawk eastward — and so on to the 
North-River through the Seneca River — South west of the 
Oneyda Lake — to the Genesee Lands, whose settlements are 
daily increasing, through the Onondago and Oswego Rivers 
in Lake Ontario, through the St. Laurens and the North-River 


in the Ocean. Consider now further Sir! that the distance of 
Fort Brewerton, at the West — and of Oneyda-Lake, near the 
mouth of the Onondago River is in a straight line, only eight 
miles from the little Salmon-creek, and 12 from the great, two 
principal landing places on Lake Ontario and the distance 
from the centre of the Lake near Bruce's creek is in a straight 
course no more than 12 miles to the same spot. The land is 
there not much broken, with few stones or rocks, so that few 
hands, as soon the trees are chopt, might make a tolerable 
good road from the one Lake to the other. This Land-car- 
riage is of a vast additional value ; but no man can have seen 
the shape of the land, and examined the Salmon-creek from 
Lake Ontario and Bruce's creek from Oneyda Lake in their 
courses, and doubt yet the high probability of a water commu- 
nication, of a short distance, between these two lakes. Join 
to all this — and this my Dear Sir ! is an encouraging observa- 
tion, that the circumjacent tracts as the Genesee Lands, to the 
South, Funda's — Steuben Oothout's patent are already partially 
settled, and continue to increase in Inhabitants, while the lots 
in the Military Lands are increasing daily in value. 

Is this not already a great deal, my friend? I know, you 
consider it from this point of view, and art already anticipat- 
ing the time, that Stores and Magazines villages and country- 
seats are adorning the borders of Oneyda-Lake — and yet, how 
great this is, it is not all. Throw, I beg you, for a moment, a 
cursory glance on the situation of this tract. I ought to have 
said: — come and see and believe. 

Towards the South you have Oneyda Lake, that of Ontario 
to the north, both joined by the Onondago and Oswego-Rivers, 
and in these disembogue, besides a number of smaller creeks, 
the wood-creek, the Oneyda-creek, the Canada-creek, the fish- 
creek, the little fish-creek the black-creek, Bruce's creek, the 
large and smaller Salmon river — and, what we called, the fresh 
lobster-creek from the numbers we catched here of this deli- 
cious crustaceous fish, even superior to the Sea-lobster, and as 


exquisite a dainty as those in Guelderland and the Dutchy of 
Cleres — which afford there such a sumptuous and palatable 
dish to the modern descendant of Apicius. 

Both Salmon Rivers, emptying into Lake Ontario to the 
North of this tract of land, and the Fish-creek in Oneyda Lake 
are in the spring and fall [full] of Salmon. You may form of 
.this assertion, a pretty accurate opinion after I have informed 
you, that one Oneyda Indian took with his Spear 45 Salmons. 
within an hour; another, in the presence of Cap 1 Simonds 65 
during one night, and another 80. They are equal to the best, 
which are catched in the rivers the Rhine and the Meuze, and 
might, if the time of fishing was limited by the Legislature, 
and, what is more, its Laws punctually obey'd and executed 
with vigour, become as beneficial to our country at large, as 
the Salmon fishery of the Meuze in Holland, from which the 
East and West-Indies are supplied with this luxurious fish. 
Was the method of catching the Salmon in fuyks and smoak- 
ing these introduced, as I advised several, with the offer of in- 
itiating them in this mystery Oneyda Lake with its tributary 
streams might supply an abundant Provision, for all the States 
the West-Indian market, that of South-America included — Per- 
suaded of this truth, I wrote to our Dutch friends and obtained 
through my old Hon. friend D. Herbach from a mercantile 
house at Schoonhoven, the staple place as you know of this 
commodity an accurate description of the mode of catching — 
curing — smoaking — through the whole progress, and- offered 
its communication to Mr. Stevens at Fort Prewerton and oth- 
ers, but — it was not accepted — too much trouble! too distant! 
too uncertain the prospect of gain! no control over the Indian 
Brethren! no encouragement by the Legislature! I do neverthe- 
ess not yet despair, or a happier period shall arrive — 

The eel of the Oneyda Lake is equal to the best of the Hol- 
land market and far surpasses every kind, which I have ever 
tasted here, in size, in fatness in tenderness of the fish. The 
Salmon river possesses besides this plenty fulness of the finny 


tribe, another important advantage, viz full-laden Bateaux 
may have access and recess to both. What a potent lure mer- 
chant! to Canadians, who now must purchase many articles at 
three and four times the capital,, higher from Quebec, than 
they may obtain these from the State of New-York. They, 
who pay at Cataraqui 3$ and 3^ at Niagara for one bushel salt, 
are often supplied with it at the Salmon : creek for five shillings, 
although, even at Whites-town, Fort Stanwix and its vicinity 
often is paid from eight to ten Shillings. Here too, in time the 
prize shall be lower: cut only canals — increase the salt work, 
and manufacture it to a higher degree of perfection. 

A bountiful God has, in this respect too provided for the 
wants of the Western Country with profusion. Every where 
are salt-springs, and but few miles from Oneyda Lake in Onon- 
dago is a copious salt lake, encircled with salt springs, the 
domain of the People of the State of New-York. A consid- 
erable quantity is already transported to Canada, and thousand 
American families make never use of any other. How the 
copiousness must be increased, when rock salt too is manu- 
factured and carried to the south and west of our immense 
continent. How exuberant it must become, when that lime 
stone crust, through whose crevices it is now ascending shall 
be broken, and that vast body of solid salt discovered, from 
which now a thousand springs through ages have been satured. 
You perceive, that I believe in the real existence of this sub- 
terraneous treasure, which, I presume, may be discovered 
without Jacques Ay mar Baguette Divinatoire, and I have no 
less a name than that of Leibnitz to procure credit to my 
supposition: He said, in his Protogcea " Sub terra esse conditoria 
satis, satis /antes aquorum salsarum Jocent" which, as you have 
often heard, when in Holland, faithfully translated in our 
English language is "that there are repositories of ^rlt under 
the earth, is evident from the salt-water springs," but Rome, 
says the proverb, was not build in one day: what a time elapsed 
before the Chester-shire salt-springs were of any advantage! 


what a time elapsed, before the basket-salt was brought to 
market, and how late was it, that the rock salt was there dis- 
covered, from which now considerable quantities, dug in large 
masses, are now transported to the west-coast of England, 
melted in sea water, and again reduced in salt and used in the 
curing of herrings! and how much must the value of this treas- 
ure be enhanced, when the discovered coal-mines are placed 
in the west at its side. 

This country, so abundant in water and fish, is if possible, 
yet more profusely endowed by our Bountiful Maker with 
wood. Every kind of timber of the Northern and Eastern 
States is here in the greatest plenty and perfection : Butter- 
nut, wall-nut, white oak, sugar maple, chesnut, beach, black 
ash, pine, Hemlock, the lime tree, white wood or canoes wood 
and several other species. When I asserted, that the most part 
of these were to be found in the highest perfection, I allways 
limit it to our States, as our timber is unquestionably inferior 
to that, which is carried to the Dutch markets from the interior 
parts of Germany and the Baltic. Oak, pine and chesnut are 
chiefly found at short distances from the Lakes, the remainder 
in a more fertile soil at some greater distance; the Hemlock fir 
and pine on more barren spots. 

The canals can not be opened, or the value of the timber 
must be raised. You know the scarcity of white-oak and pine 
on several points on the North-river and Mohawk, so that they 
are scarce sufficient to supply the first wants of the Inhabitants, 
who are often compelled to employ timber of an inferior kind. 
I might enlarge on the blessings of the hard maple, without 
which the new settlers would be bereft of many of the comforts 
of live — sugar — molasses — vinegar, was you not thoroughly ac- 
quainted with the inestimable value of this precious tree. 

It is true my Dear Sir! a good soil, good water and plenty 
of wood for fuel and timber are strong inducements to settle 
in a new country — more so, when the prize of all this i* 
enhanced by the prospect of a good market in the neighbour- 


hood — but, if thou art there nearly alone without neighbours 
— if from the vicinity you can obtain nothing even for ready 
cash — if — as is the situation of the largest number, who trans- 
port their families in the woods — all consists in an axe, a plow, 
a wheel, a frying pan, kettle, bed and pillow, with a scanty pro- 
vision of flower, potatoes and saltpork, then — what ? then my 
Dear Sir! something else besides is required not to suffer during 
the first season. It is true, a little wheat is often saved in the fall, 
a small spot cleared, to plant in the spring corn and potatoes, 
while they live in the hope, if their health is spared, to prepare 
the soil for sowing flax-seed: but, something more yet is required 
to the maintenance of a numerous hungry family, and in this 
respect too Providence has in this Destrict graciously provided 
even to satiety. Never did I see yet a country, where all kind 
of fish was so abundant and good: It may be equalled, it 
cannot be excelled. I salted within a short time of more than 
a dozen different species, the one contending with the other for 
the pre-eminence, the least of these affording a palatable food. 
Salmon, pike, pickrel, cat-fish, if well prepared, boiled or stewed, 
resembing the taste of the delicious Turbot, Otzwego Baas, an 
Epicurean morsel, yellow perch, sun-fish, tziob, (chub), three 
species of Tront, River Lobsters, Turtle, Sword-fish, and a green 
coloured fish of an exquisite taste, white-fish, &c, &c. 

The salmon is generally salted, and sold at 4 ^ the barrel, 
cat-fish at £4 and ^4-10, the eel is smoaked, and with 
the two preceeding sorts preserved for the winter-provision, 
others are consumed fresh. Hundreds of gull-eggs may be 
gathered in the islands. Ducks and geese visit annually the 
Lake and creeks in large Flocks, the swan is but seldom seen 
in this vicinity, while bears and Deers are roaring in the neigh- 
bourhood of every cottage. It is enough to set out a few lines 
at evening, to make now and then an excursion to the woods, 
without sacrificing much of his time, that a settler may supply 
his family with meat and fish during five or six months. 

This is the country, in which I could wish, that our families 


were transplanted, with a few industrious families around us, 
whom we could assist, and be mutually aided by them. Here 
we might soon forget the battle -of the great world, might secure 
our happiness, if we can curb our affections, and leave a hand- 
some inheritance to our children. But He, who directs all 
human affairs for the best, shall direct our steps. 

Do not suspect, that I placed too much trust in general favor- 
able reports. Follow me, and we will take an ocular inspec- 
tion of the Land. On Sunday morning we bid adieu to the 
good widow, who left nothing undone, what was in her power, 
to render her homely cottage comfortable to us. About three 
miles from her house, a small swift-running stream emptied its 
waters in the Wood-creek from the South. From thence we 
proceeded to a place, called Oak-orchard, situated at the same 
side. We arrived ere long at the singular neck of land, about 
a mile in lenght, and so small, that, by standing, we discovered 
the water at the opposite side. This was a tedious ciacumnav- 
igation indeed, we might have passed it in a few seconds if a 
passage had been cut through it. 

Not far from this spot we discovered a clearing, extended 
towards the rush-creek, or Oneyda River, known by the name 
of Capt Philips and Deans improvements. We left our canoe 
now and then to look at the Land. It was low and Matt near 
the border of the creek, and had the appearance of being an- 
nually overflowed. The muddy sediments placed it beyond 
doubt; the luxuriant foliage of the stately trees did leave no room 
to suspect, that the land might not be transformed in verdan 
meadows and grass-lands; at some distance the land became 
gradually more elevated, and was adorned with oak, beech, 

The approaching night compelled us to look out for a con- 
venient spot for our encampment, in which we soon succeeded. 
Our tent was pitched, and a blazing fire prepared by the boys. 
We spread our carpet, and made our beds ready waiting for 
our supper. Here thousands of muskitoes welcomed us in 


their abode, obtruded their company, and exhausted our pa- 
tience by their treacherous caresses, in which they continued 
till we had encircled our tents with smoak, and yet we heard 
their singing — but quite different from Pergolese's Stabat Mater. 

We covered our faces with a veil before we went to sleep. 
This was the first time in my life I slept in the woods, and yet 
my sleep was sound, but short and not very refreshing, as I 
awoke fatigued, and was not at ease till I drove the sleep from 
the eyes of all my companions, and had hurried them to the 
canoe, to pursue our journey. 

We did so, and had scarce proceeded a mile, when the wood- 
creek, increasing imperceptibly in brea[d]th lost the appearance 
of a ditch, and appeared a handsome river, but how charming 
was the sight! how delightfully was I surprised, when I did see 
it, unexpectedly, enlarged to more than double its breadth, and 
our frail vessel, if a hollow tree may be decorated with this 
pompous name, in its middle. This sensation however was only 
momentaneous. It was succeeded by another of a different stamp, 
which I could not surpress, although I endeavoured to conquer it. 
You know, that in days of yore presumption was rather my 
fault than fear, and here I could not have dream'd, that it 
lurked in my breast, and yet I lounged to be somewhat nearer 
the banks with our canoe, but the sight of danger is as fleeting, 
when we dare to look sternly at it, and are willing to brave it, 
as that of a careless security is blending our sight, when we 
headless rush on in an untrodden road. I soon perceived, 
that we were now as safe as in the' wood-creek, and it was a 
delight to observe, how this river doubled its speed to pay its 
tribute to the Lake. Now we hurried on, and encouraged 
our raw and unexpert hands to row on with alacrity, as we 
lounged impatiently to see this vast expansion of water. Our 
wishes were ere long gratified, we stopt our course about nine 
oclock, unloaded our canoe, pitched our tent, and brought 
firewood together, that we might have full leisure to contem- 
plate this beautiful Lake. 


Dezeng left me with the canoe and one hand to take a short 
excursion on the Oneyda-creek, to the south-side of the Lake, 
to fetch some implements, left there the year before by one 
Peter Frey. 

This Peter Frey, born in Germany, lives since twenty years 
among the Oneyda-Indians, and gained their confidence in 
such a degree, that they use him in any affairs of consequence, 
and consider him as the most honest white man, with whom 
they have been acquainted. True it is that he takes care of 
their interests with a fidelity and ardour, bordering on Enthus- 
iasm, which is but seldom met with. He is peculiarly entrusted 
with the management of the affairs of a Colonel Lewis, who 
served in the revolutionary army, and was rewarded by this 
state with a bounty in land. 
j The Oneyda and Onondago Indians cultivate many hundreds 
choice appletrees, from which they liberally distribute the 
fruits among their white neighbours, and provide them with 
grafts and young trees, if they are inclined to settle in their 

While Major De Zeng continued his course, in exploring the 
Canada-creek, I took a walk along the eastern sandy shore of 
this charming Lake, and examined its northern salient angles, 
of which the first was four, the next about nine miles distant in 
this circuit from the mouth of the wood creek. The woods 
on the south-shore are over shadowed by a chain of mountains 
from east to west, curiously diversified by three elevations, 
which by their undulations in a serpentine line altered the 
horizon in a most delightful manner. The small islands in 
the Lake could be distinguished, and Zephr ruffled its silver 
waves. Within a few moments I saw three canoes, one with 
Indians, among whom Cap 1 Jacob Reed and one Bateau from 
the south and west, while two bateaux with four families from 
the Fish creek, landed a little below our encampment. 

The soil is a barren sand; the trees near the shore dwarfish 
and of little value. At first, when I entered the woods, 1 met 


with a swampy ground, but. further proceeding a good loam, 
increasing in depth and richness, as I went on. Oak, fir, pine, 
water-ash, then oak beach and maple are the principal timber. 

The Baron returned about 12 with two most capital eels, 
presented him by an Oneyda — Good Peter, who had been 
hired by him the last year, to follow him on a similar expe- 
dition as that, in which we now were engaged. 

Having loitered here away the afternoon in examining shells 
and stones and plants and shrubs, we pursued our course the 
next morning, then rowing then using the setting poles along 
the shore, till we reached the point from which its northerly 
side may be calculated. From here the shore was generally cov- 
ered with pebbles. A small creek, called by the Indians, who 
were with us, little fish-creek, falls here in the Lake. At the 
east-side near the Lake the pine, oak and Hemlock elevate 
their heads, and overshadow an extensive tract of tolerable 
good Land, although it does not assume this appearance, as at 
some distance from the Lake, where they are intermixed, often 
outnumbered by Bash-wood, ash, white-wood, chesnut and 
sugar-maple. To the west side of this creek is a large tract of 
oaks — a grey sandy soil — a little further it is covered with a 
thin loam, there the oaks become mingled with beach, ere long 
with butternut and maple, then ash, wallnut, maple and beach 
in a rich loam from 6 till 18 inches deep, increasing by every 
step, which you advance to the interior — 

We had now lost a great part of two days in fishing without 
an adequate reward to our exertions, and might have suspected, 
that the exuberant abundance of this Lake in fish, of which we 
had heard so much boasting from white-men as well as Indians, 
had been exaggerated, but we soon discovered the cause of our 
failure, while the Indians and roving Americans confirmed us 
in our opinion. The Lake was now covered as with a white 
cloak of hundred thousands millions of Insects, which we 
call Haft in Holland, and which lay in some parts of the shore 
one and two inches deep. This insect appears here annually 


at a stated period, although somewhat earlier than in Holland. 
The eggs are hatched on the surface of the water, — the winged 
insect flutters a short time in the air, and is buried after a short 
life in its watery grave, to supply the finny tribe a rich repast, 
from which man reaps in his turn the advantages. My Imag- 
ination warmed and exalted by the present scenes brought me 
in a twinkling of the eye on the Meuze, and I ordered the 
rowers to steer to the Stone-Chamber (Steene-kcwier) to regale 
myself with that delicious and so handsomely shaped fish the 
Roach which preys upon this insect, and is never called for 
by the lovers of a good fare, except in these few days — A decent 
public house, at the mouth of the wood-creek might here 
replace the Steene-kamer, and the Land-Lord might regale his 
guests in a more luxurious manner. The water-plants with 
their broad oval leaves, their yellow and white flowers, con- 
tinued the illusion. It wanted only to complete its success, a 
few bottles of Old-Mozel-wine — 

It was infallible, my Dear friend! as I spend in my youth so 
many delicious hours on the Meuze, when I often staid several 
weeks in its vicinity, or this remembrance contributed to ex- 
hilarate my soul, enraptured with the charms of the spot, with 
the contemplation of the wonders, which a bountiful God 
spread over the face of the earth, and might to be traced in 
every step. 

We were a little after sunset, suddenly surprised at a number 
of fires in a semicircular form on the Lake. I numbered 
nine, others several more. These were made by the Oneyda 
Indians spearing eel. They are usually two or three in a canoe, 
one steersman, one, who spears in the bow, the third takes care 
of the fires, made from dry, easily flaming wood, in a hollow 
piece of bark, first covered with sand. This brings me again 
to the Meuze, so see the fuyks setting for the salmon-fishery, 
or emptying these from their captives, when some are saved, 
others, as you know, intended for fat salmon, receive their im- 
mediate doom, being knocked on the fore part of the head. 


which they term kuyzen. How the fisherman laughs at the 
fruitless endeavour of the inexpert youth to kill the salmon. 
He performs it alhvays with one, and well a soft stroke. 

We proceeded in our course, and arrived at no great distance, 
to another, but much smaller creek emptying its waters in a 
pretty bay; here was the Land to some extent, towards the 
Lake low, and could only be appropriated for pasture or Hay- 
Land ; but it gradually ascended about 20 feet, where it was 
covered with a deep black, rich fertile soil, mixed with a small 
portion of black sand, and covered with majestic oak, beach 
butternut, walnut ash and maple. Here the prospect was ad- 
mirable indeed. Imagine, my Dear Sir ! and yours is lively 
enough, imagine that falling plain near the lake, cleared from 
trees and stumps, and covered with verdure, embellished with 
a dozen of cows, justly as you contemplated in the days of 
yore in the rich pastures of the South Rhine and Delfs land — 
the Lake in front — a wood to the south at the other side, behind 
it the canoserago mountains — the small nimbling creek to the 
east, and to the west the Islands in the Lake in perspective — 
while behind you the noblest fields invite you to admire the 
rich produce of the soil, equal to the best tilled in our country. 

Major Dezeng walked slowly with his gun on shore: 

With head upraised and look intent 
and eye and ear attentive bent: 

while we rowed on, he give us a signal; we pushed to the shore: 
He told us, that he saw a bear on the next point: in an instant 
we left the canoe, and dispatched our boys, well armed, in the 
woods to cut of his retreat; DeZeng and I advanced in his 
front from the Lake side: when within a pistol-shot of this surly 
Lord of the woods. He stood still trots on a few step, and re- 
ceived a shot from the woods, which brokfe] his left hind-leg, 
another glanced his browny side. Dezeng missed his aim, 
and, while I stept forward with the cocked gun, DeZeng throwing 
his gun aside, sprung impetuously forward with the Toma- 


hawk in his hand, attacked him in front, and knocked him on 
the head twice; Brown lifted up his paw, twice he opened his 
mouth, at last 

Stagg'ring he falls in blood and foam expires: 

We dragged him with difficulty towards the canoe, as he was 
indeed of a monstruous size, iifted him in it, and returned by 
Land to the little creek, while our men rowed towards the same 
spot. Here we resolved to make our encampment for that night, 
in the morning it proved to be the most delightful spot, which 
we had yet seen. 

Methinks my Dear Sir! you must now be pretty tired with 
reading, take then what repose, the bow can not be allways 
bend, we are making our preparations for the same end, while 
our boys are opening the bear early in the morning. They 
shall take of his hide, to preserve it our trophy, fasten his 
limbs to the trees for the first passenger — man or other beast of 
prey — and prepare for our breakfeast a few slices roasted, with 
a small piece for soup at dinner, adio 




Kingston, 7 Aug. 1792 

My Dear Sir! — If you never tasted it, you might have 
declined to share in our Break-feast. Stewed slices of surly 
Brown was the principal dish. It was not to his advantage, 
that, though bulky enough, he was not fat; otherwise you must 
know, that in the country not only everywhere, but even to the 
fastidious palate of many polished New-Yorkers it is a dainty, 
and this meat deserved indeed this high praise, if you obtain 
it in its season in perfection. With all this I should not be 
surprised at all, that you had rather prefered a pike of three feet 
and six inches, which we discovered on shore — his belly torn 
open, without entrails — if we had catched it. I doubt not or 
he fell a prey to a bald eagle, who by some accident was pre- 
vented to destroy him. ■" ; 

We entered once more our canoe, discovered .two Bateaux, 
steering towards the South, and arrived about noon at the 
black creek, the largest at this side of the Lake after the fish- 
creek or Oneida River: — here we dined on an excellent rice- 
soup from one of Brown's gammons, which we had saved. 

Here was a broad piece of fore-Land, watered by this creek, 
and about a hundred rods further on another creek, sufficient 
to turn a wheel, joined it. The upland was excessive steep, 
high and barren — the soil fine yellow sand, the trees fir, hem- 
lock, pine, and a few oak. At some distance the Land gradu- 
ally descended, the soil became richer, and the timber was 
improving oak, ash, yet further Butternut beach, maple, and again 
the same rich black soil, not subject of being so soon exhausted 
or baked in intensive hot weather as the whites-town loam. 

We continued our course after dinner, along the shore, and 
hoped, that we might reach the Fisher's bay, in which the little 
creek empties herself, whose vicinity was highly extolled by De 
Zeng, with an unbounded praise, and yet his description did 
not appear to me, after a cool examination, to be too highly 


It was late before we reflected upon it, and a rising thunder 
storm urged us to take quickly hold of all our oars. I ought 
to have said Pagays, as we we[re] in a canoe. We did run, 
by our hurrying too fast, and through the inattention of our 
man at the helm, with our canoe on a hugh stone, without 
having it in our power, for a long while, to move it backward 
or forward: At lenght we got again a float, and arrived safe 
in the creek at Mr. Bruce's — in former days a Connecticut 
merchant, now an Independent Inhabitant of the Oneyda Lake, 
maintaining himself by the chase and fishery, and what he 
earned from a small potatoe spot. He fetched directly, upon 
our arrival a fine cat-fish from a reservoir, constructed from 
saplings and twigs, so well twisted, that no escape was possible. 
He praised himself not a little on his invention, as this maga- 
zine supplied his wants by foul weather, or, as he said 
"when Bruce was too lazy, to go in quest for other food;" and 
who would have been willing to poison this complacency, or 
withold the tribute to his ingenuity, which was really exerted in 
no ordinary way in this and other similar circumstances, when 
his powers of action were circumscribed within such a narrow 
sphere. Was not Caesar himself delighted with the success of 
his invention, when he constructed that wonderful bridge over 
the Rhine, which he crossed with his army, to penetrate into 
Germany, and of which he seemed pleased, to leave us such a 
minute description — and Bruce, poor as he now was indeed, 
had a pretty high opinion of himself, seemed not to wish to 
repass the Mohawk' — and — if not sua se virtute involrens, consid- 
ering himself as the best man, appeared at least to enjoy ease 
and contentment. He was a Bruce! 

This catfish weighed 10 lb — we obtained afterwards one of 
24 — some have been taken of 40 (Sc 45 weight, but those of the 
largest size are chiefly brought from Lake Ontario: when 
Bruce had prepared him, he shewed to us a handfull fat. as 
yellow as gold. It was indeed a delicious repast for our supper. 
Roasted, as this was, and no cook could have done it better, or 


boiled or stewed, as we did eat*aftei a while, you would not 
have been able to distinguish it from a fine Turbot, if its shar.e 
had been imitated. A barrel containing about fifty catfish, the 
head and backbone being thrown away, is sold here at ^£.4-10. 
We observed here two sorts of Trout (Forellen) both known by 
the name of Salmon-Trout, although incorrectly. We could 
not obtain a specimen of the white species. These were the 
yellow, and the red coloured, properly named Salmon-Trout. 
The first is generally of a smaller size, its colour a dark brown 
witli a yellow tinge ; the other is larger, the brown more lively, 
with reddish spots fringed with a colour of gold, and are some- 
times between two and three feet long. The Chub (Tziob) is 
the usual bait, sometimes froggs. 

In the morning we made an excursion in the country, took 
a straight northerly course, and returned through the west and 
south at the other side to our encampment. The fore Land 
near the Lake at the east side of the creek appeared but indif- 
ferent to the eye, now somewhat used to contemplate first rate 
soil, and the timber stood in the same relation. At the distance 
of about % mile from the Lake the ground rises gradually, 
and continues to do so, if you proceed another quart[er] mile. 
Then the soil increases in fertility from step to step, and in 
the same proportion in depth. We had at first only a layer of 
four, then of 6 inches, which augmented from two to seven 
palms of my hand. When we had proceeded about two miles 
— sometimes it is a black mould, in other places it was mixed 
with a fine black sand, sometimes a rich blue, sometimes a fine 
yellow clay. 

It seems to me, that you art somewhat surprised at my ac- 
curacy. Do you not then recollect, that I never could be sat- 
isfied, in having done a thing by halv? I may be mistaken — I 
may make a wrong decision through ignorance or inadvertence, 
but it was my sincere aim to obtain a correct view of this coun- 
try, for your for my own sake. 

I removed with my lar^e pocket-knife first the muck till I 


reached the first lay, and protruded then a sound stick in that 
spot, as far as it could penetrate, when I often, at five and 
seven palms depth discovered the same sort of soil at the end 
of the stick as that on the surface. Beach, maple, walnut was 
the principal timber with here and there an ash and lime tree, 
oak and pine near the shore. 

We crossed the creek a little above Beaverdam and found 
the same excellent soil at the west-side with the same grada- 
tion, and in the same proportion, as that, which we had ex- 
plored on the east, till we arrived again at the plain, covered 
with fir and pine. 

"This is a barren plain De Zeng!" So it seems, but it has 
good water, it has good building spots, and by manuring and 
good husbandry, will make good gardens; " It is barren in- 
deed De Zeng! although it may be meliorated " but you do 
not reflect on the advantages of that creek; art thou not con- 
vinced by what you have seen, that, with small exertions to 
improve it, full-laden Bateaux may go in and out — may do it 
actually now. Did your eye not discover the mill-seats on 
this creek? ought the valuable Lands, back to these not to 
come in competition? can you not see Bateaux ascending 
Bruce's creek, and descending the Salmon creek? — can you 
not see the furs and other valuable produce of Canada brought 
hither, through the canal? ah! do you not see already various 
stores and magazines crowded with merchandise — then you 
nothing of second sight: return to this spot within 30, 40 years, 
and you shall exclaim " Dezeng was pretty near the truth but 
underrated yet the value of the spot;" and so it would indeed 
have been now, had a colony been planted here under Stuyve- 
sant's administration, and the noble patronage of the Dutch 
Government, of a few families of Boors from Guelder Land, 
and of fishermen from the borders of the Meuze! — 

A swamp begins about two miles and a half from this creek, 
which extends itself considerably in the country, and joins an 
excellent piece of Land, which is separated by another marsh 


from the Lake towards the west. You may calculate the value 
of this Land, by that one of the Oneyda Indians, Colonel 
Lewis, left nothing untried, to have it secured to him as his 
individual property; and that the Indians, when afterwards a 
French adventurer, one Chevalier Bennet, had obtained the 
possession, did give him in lieu of it 60000 acres near Cataragui. 
Even these swamps must acquire in time no inconsiderable 
value from the timber, which they contain. Their draining 
nevertheless — though it may be executed — must be an expen- 
sive undertaking, by want of a descent for the water as they 
are laying nearly on a level. 

We left Bruce's creek on friday evening about six, the sky 
was serene and delightful : — a soft breeze curled the waves, 
and fringed them with white, while the sun, sinking towards 
the west beautified the whole scenery. I did not witness such 
a grand or majestic sight, since I crossed the Atlantic. It must 
be seen, before it can be fully appraised — and then it must 
be a brute, whose bosom does not glow with an ardent love 
towards his Creator, and adore this goodness and wisdom, so 
majestically display'd in every part of the Universe. In pro- 
portion that we penetrated deeper in the Lake the beauty of 
this diversified prospect was more and more enhanced — the 
Islands, the shores, the woods, the mountains obtruding them- 
selves to our sight, seemed to vie with other for the preference. 
At lenght the slight breeze increased ; ere long a brisk wind 
arose from the west : the increased undulated motion with the 
white capped waves appalled our raw hands, whose trembling 
limbs and pale visages too clearly betray'd their fear of a 
threatning shipwreck. We endeavoured to assuage it, as the 
wind was steady. If we had any apprehension it arose from 
their inexpertness, from their unsubdued tenor, from the 
knowledge, that two or three waves would have been sufficient 
to sink our deep loaded canoe. We conquered nevertheless, 
and they rowed on with redoubled alacrity. We encouraged 
and applauded their efforts, and laughed away their fears. 


I never witnessed a more charming sight: It was indeed 
exquisitely beautiful : the sun in its full splendour at 
the western horizon, gilding the enlightened clouds — an 
an extensive sheet of water, in an undulating motion — two 
Islands towards the south in front, which we were now ap- 
proaching, a small opening between these, through which we 
had a view of the southern coast, one single, covered with 
grass, and with one tree adorned rock, behind which in per- 
spective appeared the country of the Oneydas with the Cano- 
serago Hills. 

We landed half after seven at the largest and most westerly 
Island, towed the canoe on shore, and walked by an Indian 
path in the woods. 

This Island might in ancient days have been the happy seat 
of a Goddess — in the middle age that of a Magician — or, a 
Fairy's residence in the times of chivalry. Proceeding on one 
after another through the stately trees, through which we per- 
ceived yet the last glances of the setting sun, we were at once, 
after a few rods surprised with an enchanting view, of which it 
is not in my power to give you an adequate description. All 
what the Poets did sing of the gardens of Alcinous — all the 
scenery of those of Armida, so highly decorated by Virgil and 
Ariosto, could scarce have made upon me, who was captivated 
unawares and bewildered, a more deep impression than this 
spectacle of nature. We did see here a luxuriant soil in its 
virgin bloom — we did see industry crowned with blessing — we 
did see here what great things a frail man can perform if he is 
willing. It seemed a Paradise, which happiness had chosen 
for her residence. Our path, gradually increasing in breadth 
did lead \\\ to the circumference of a cleared circle, surrounded 
with lime-trees ; at both sides of the path was planted Indian 
corn, already grown from 4 [to] 5 feet, while a few plants to- 
wards the middle of this patch were six feet long — and this in 
the middle of June. A small cottage of a few feet square stood 
nearly in the centre of this spot. It had a bark covering and 


to the left of it a similar one, three-fourth uncovered, and ap- 
propriated for a kitchen. Here was the residence of Mr. & 
Madame de Watines with their three children! 

They lived there without servants, without neighbors, with- 
out a cow ; they lived, as it were, separated from the world. 
De Wattiness sallied forward, and gave us a cordial wel-come 
in his Desmenes. The well educated man was easily recog- 
nized through his sloven dress. Ragged as he appeared, with- 
out a coat or hat, his manners were those of a Gentleman; his 
address that of one, who had seen the higher circles of civilized 
life. A female, from whose remaining beauties might be con- 
jectured, how many had been tarnished by adversity, was sitting 
in the entrance of this cot. She was dressed in white, in a 
short gown and petticoat, garnished with the same stuff ; her 
chessnut brown hair, flung back in ringlets over her shoulders, 
her eyes fixed on her darling Camille — a native of this Isle — 
at her breast ; while two children, standing at each side of her, 
play'd in her lap. Her appearance was amiable indeed : a 
wild imagination might have lost herself, and considered the 
wearied toiling Des Wattines, as the Magician, who kept this 
beautiful woman in slavery, but ere soon the charm dwindled 
away. Esteem for the man filled our bosom, and when you 
considered, how indefatigably he must have exerted himself! 
what sacrifices he must have made! what hardships endured, 
to render her situation comfortable, and rear roses for her on 
this Island — so deep in the western wilderness — then, notwith- 
standing all the foibles, which a fastidious cool observer might 
discover at his fireside, in a character and conduct as that of 
Des Wattines, he becomes an object of admiration : I at least 
gazed at him in wonder. Des Wattines introduced us to his 
spouse. She received us with that easy politeness, which well 
educated people seldom loose entirely, and urged, with so much 
grace, to sit down, that we could not refuse it without incivility. 
This couple was now in the second year on this Island, and all 
the improvements, which we had seen, were the work of Des 
Wattines hands exclusively. 


Our refreshment was a dish of tea, or rather their usual bev- 
erage from Venus-hair, which she has collected and dried, palata- 
ble enough indeed, when sweetened with sugar. It was growing 
dark before we could be persuaded to leave our new compan- 
ions, who insisted on our staying with them that night; which 
we declined reluctantly, but engaged ourselves to return in 
the morning, and to partake of their break-feast. 

Both had gained a claim to this sudden affectionate attach- 
ment. He initiated in the manners of the fashionable world 
of the old continent, with a tincture of Belles Lettres, with 
that sprightliness and versatility of mind, characterizing 

ce Peuple aimable, ami des arts 
tantot grave, tantot futile 
par cent tourbellons emporte, 
agilant d'une main legere 
les hochets de la nouveaute; 
frivole et gay par charactere 
et raisonneur par vanite. 

She, so artless, so graceful, so fair, who might have extorted 
compliance, where a world of men could not prevail; could it 
be else, or Europeans, not insensible to the pleasures of society, 
and separated from those, dear to their hearts, must have been 
gratified with the vicinity and courtesy of this couple. 

Few trunks, few chairs, an oval table, two neat beds was the 
principal furniture: a double barreled gun a pretty collection 
of Books, chiefly modern Literature in the French language, 
the chief ornaments of the cottage. 

At our return to our encampment our tent was pitched, the 
fire blazing, our boys snoring, and we too fell asleep. I 
awoke with day-light, and made the circuit of this fortunate 
Island. When returned to the place of our Landing, I crossed 
the corn-plantation, and went on, to contemplate more care- 
fully, what might have escaped my sight the preceding even- 

Des Wattines had laid out behind the cottage a pretty gar- 
den, divided by a walk in the middle. The two foremost beds. 


and rabats, against the house were covered with a variety of 
flowers, sweet-williams, Lady-slippers, with a few decaying hy- 
acinths. At the right hand were Bath-beans, large kidney-beans 
at poles, cabbage, turnips, peas, salade with that strong 
s[c]ented herbage which we call keovel (cheovel) and which you 
purchased so dear at your arrival in New-York, although its 
culinary use in cakes and soup was then yet unknown there; 
at the left watermelons, canteloups, cucumbers, persil, string 
peas with a few of the winter provisions, all in great forward- 
ness, with few or no weeds among them: Behind the garden 
a small nursery of apple-trees, which was closed with a patch 
of luxurient potatoes, and these again were joined from both 
sides by wheat, describing a semi-circle around it. 

All this was the workmanship of Des-Wattines's industry 
without any assistance, not even of a plow or harrow, having 
no other tool but an axe and an hoe. It is true, it was all in 
miniature, but it required nevertheless an indefatigable indus- 
try, to be able to accomplish all this to such a degree of per- 
fection. When I approached the cottage Des YVattines was yet 
employ'd in dragging pretty heavy wood for fuel towards it, 
which he chopt and split, in a short time ; and in less yet the fire 
was blazing, when he came with a cat-fish of 16 lb for our 
break-feast. While he was busily engaged in its preparation 
Madame appeared, brought him a handful persil, and dressed 
the table. The table cloth was of neat damask, a few silver 
spoons and forks, the plates and dishes cream coloured, rem- 
nants ye* of their former affluence, while the contentment 
legible in her eyes, spread a fresh glow over her countenance, 
and made a deep impression on our hearts, and, whetted our 
already keen appetites. De Zeng was mean-while arrived, and 
complimented Madame with his usual politeness. Salade f 
roasted and stewed fish, well-baked, warm bread of Indian 
corn, with good Hyzan tea, which she accepted from us with 
kindness, soon filled the table. I was seldom better regaled. 
The fish was delicious: the sprightly conversation gave a fresh 


relish to every mouthful we tasted, and we might have desired, 
to be Inhabitants of that enchanted spot, had it been in our 
power to withdraw our attention from the hardship, to which 
they were exposed, and banish the idea, that they seldom 
could obtain anything else but fish. 

You .know my Dear Sir! how all significant it is, toujours dc 
Perdrix! although the gay conviviality of Des Wattines drove 
for a while this gloomy thought away, it could not prevent its 
return — while now and then a down-cast look — how suddenly 
it was relieved — an involuntary half suppressed sigh give a new 
poignancy to the bitterness of this feeling. Des Wattines, even 
assisted by De Zeng, ridiculed in vain similar reveries and phan- 
toms: She smiled and its force was blunted: an Island! in 
Oneyda Lake! the want of all society whatever — except per- 
haps a solitary visit from — a bear — the want of many of the 
first necessaries of life — and, that too in her situation — when 
her Camille was born! the imperious necessity to leave from 
time to time such an amiable, delicate woman with three chil- 
dren helpless — sometimes several days together — alone on thi> 
Island — as often Des Wattines went to the Oneyda-creek for 
corn: was it possible, that similar reflections should not have 
marred the most tumultuous joy! I will not deny, that my spir- 
its were damped, and my jocundity was now and then deeply 
tinged with melancholy. 

Des Wattines inquired in the boundaries of my Journey, "to 
Lake Ontario:" and "in what manner?" "well wich our 
canoe" was the reply. He sprung from his chair, ayd stared 
us fully in the face with a Par Dicit ! with your canoe! to 
Lake Ontario! Nanny! prenesle Bateau take it Major! it i> 
at your service — Prenes-le." We did not hesitate long to 
accept his offer. We might have brought our adventurou* 
expedition to a happy end, it was unquestionable, that we 
might effect with far greater safety in a Bateau. We soon had 
our baggage transported on it, left our canoe behind at the 
Island, with our frying pan through the slothfulness of our 


hands. We started thus on Saturday morning about ten. 
Towards the South the Canoserago creek, rich in fish, falls in 
the lake. The bottom of the Lake at the south side is a grey- 
stone — which extends to the shore— and seems divided in ob- 
long squares. There are appearances, and very strong indeed, 
of rock iron, which ore in some parts is extending for a con- 
siderable lenght on the shore : and, although we had proofs to 
call not its reality in question, we could not ascertain it. The 
land had again a very promising aspect at some distance from 
the shore, and shall, I doubt not, be transformed, within a few 
years in productive farms. We arrived at fort Brewerton about 
noon, situated at the North-western corner of the Lake. Here 
is a location of about four hundred acres, obtained by Mr. 
Staats during the late Brittish war. It was now inhabited by 
two families, viz. that of one Cap 1 Bingham and one Mr Si- 
monds, the latter from Cagnawagha. They had rented it at 
twenty jQ a year, and desired to make a purchase of it, but 
Mr Staats, acquainted with its value had constantly declined 
their offers. 

I was highly gratified with excellent bread and butter, 
feasted on milk for my beverage, and purchased two pints of 
it, which we carried to our Bateau. The situation alone ren- 
ders this spot of considerable consequence ; and its importance 
must be heightened as soon the backlands are settled, and the 
navigation of the western waters shall be carried to that sum- 
mit, to which it eventually must ascend. The soil is clay, of 
which a large quantity of brick was made. Somewhat further 
a sandy loom was covered with stately trees — oak then beach 
ash and mapple. 

We arrived in the Onondago river, which even as the fish- 
creek, has generally very steep banks — more so however at the 
west-side. We passed some times, through our unexpertness 
large rists, with difficulty. It was said here was an ancient 
Indian eel-wear — by which this natural obstruction in the bed 
of the river had been increased. The stream was otherwise 


very placid, and our progress of course, easy. To the west, 
joining Staats location, is an excellent tract of land, the prop- 
erty of Mr. L'Home Dieu — to the south the military Lands, 
chiefly a valuable, fruitful soil. A sudden shower compelled 
us to land about three miles below fort Brewerton, where we 
encamped that night — being resolved if the rain might abate. 
to take a view of the Land. 

The soil is rich, with a great variety of luxuriant trees, a 
black loom with a mixture of fine sand of the same color, many 
inches deep, then clay — the timber majestic, spreading its 
branches and foliage, beach, oak, maple, black ash, with here 
and there a pine and hemlock. I had ventured, rather im- 
prudently perhaps, a few miles in the woods: the beauty of the 
stop had lured me deeper and deeper, till at last I knew not 
from where I came, or wither I went: the sun being set, I had 
lost this unerring guide — my only refuge was now my pocket- 
compass, by which I again discovered the course, which I had 
to steer towards the river. This nevertheless would have brought 
me two miles below my encampment, had not DeZeng, appre- 
hensive of this issue, send out the boys to hunt the straggler. 

Next day about three in the afternoon we reached three- 
River Point, eighteen miles from fort Brewerton. Here join 
the Onondago and Seneca River, that of Oswego, flowing to 
Lake Ontario in a southwesterly direction. 

One Barker lived at the east side of this point, whose chief 
employment was to conduct the Bateaux over the falls in Os- 
wego River. He' might have been independent, had he pos- 
sessed virtue and strenght of mind sufficient to take advantage 
of his situation. Every Bateau bound to or coming from the 
Genesees — Onondago — Oswego — Cataraqui and Niagara stops 
here, and their crews would often deem it a happiness, could 
they there be supplied with refreshments of bread, butter ami 
milk — of rum and gin. He knew scarce the first so seldom did 
he see these articles, and the latter he wanted for himself ex- 


This spot is a reservation of Church Land for the benefit of 
the District — and why not — my Dear Sir — are not by this Great 
State a few millions of their unsold lands devoted and ap- 
propriated to the maintenance of the clergy — without any dis- 
tinction of sects — so the new settlers would not be burthened 
above what they are able to bear and the worthy clergy 
would not often be reduced to beggary. 

A small patch of corn promised a good crop and a similar of 
Summer wheat — which he said to have sown the first of 
May — had branched out its large ears. 

At the southwest side of Oswego, is the valuable tract of L. 
Gansevoort, with here and there a cleared spot and another in 
no respect, except extension, inferior to this is a location of 
one thousand acres of L'Home-Dieu — to the North of the On- 
ondago, opposite to the southern point of the Oswego. 

We hired Barker at five shillings a day to bring us over the 
fall, and stay with us till our return. We started from the 
point at four. We distinguished at a considerable distance 
the grumbling noise of the water on the first and second 
rist. Near the first is a remarquable good mill-site. Here 
were the Onondagos collected in large numbers — some fishing 
— some smoaking in their huts — others from time to time 
arriving and passing us in their bark canoes, with much 
art constructed — so light and easily manageable that a 
squaw with her little daughter 'gained on us, and left us soon 
behind her by her volocity. We concluded to encamp about 
ten miles from three-rivers point, opposite to a handsome 
Island in the Oswego river. The pickrel often weigh here 
thirty pound — pike is of a similar size. We took a catfish of 
four span and a half — perch too; of which we obtained a few, 
is here in abundance. 

At a short distance from the river is a good fertile soil — 
further of a rich clay — the timber pretty similar to that, which 
we had seen before. We started again pretty early on Mon- 
day morning and arrived at the falls, twelve miles from the 


point. This indeed was again a very interesting sight. You 
would be enraptured with it, could I borrow and then make 
use of Vernet's pencil, so that I could do justice to the scenery 
— I would offer you a grand tableau. At the South-side is a 
farm of three hundred acres of one Mr. Valckenburg who 
intends to build here this year a saw and gristmill. It is a 
noble spot for constructions of this kind. 

Here we unloaded our Bateau — dragged it about hundred 
rods over the carrying place, and there, below the falls com- 
mitted her again to its proper element. In few moments our 
baggage was again on board, and we in the Bateau. Here 
Barker did give us a proof of his dexterity and alertness : with 
a rapidity which dimmed the sight with an incredible swift- 
ness, we passed over stones, between rocks and islands — as an 
arrow on the wing, and lost the falls out of our sight and hear- 
ing, before we could reflect to turn our eyes once more towards 
these, or examine our process with coolness. At twelve we 
arrived at Oswego — yet secured by a Brittish garrison, notwith- 
standing it ought to have been surrendered many years before 
to our government — in conformity to the Treaty of Peace. 
But I should not have dared to assert, that from our side all its 
articles had been religiously observed. If so, nevertheless, 
then our national forbearance was a rare example in a Repub- 
lican Government. 

It is time, my Dear Sir ! to take some repose. I at least, am 
in want of it, and the generous can not be lack in courtesy. 
In my next I shall bring you to the limits of the land of promise. 
I will not leave you there, but, depend upon it, you will perceive 
how I am then speeding — as a dart from the bow, towards my 
beloved family. Adio' 

Yours &c. 


Kingston, 10 Aug. 1792. 

My Dear Sir! — Two fortifications commanding a consider- 
able extent of water and land, attracted first our notice. That 
to the south — constructed in former days by the Brittish — was 
now chiefly demolished; that to the North fortified by the 
French, and conquered on them by the Brittish, during the 
seven years war, is yet garrisoned by them — although within 
our lines. Its whole defence however is but one company, 
which could not make any resistance, as all the fortifications 
are so decay'd that it would not be a great achievement to 
drive over these ramparts with waggon and horses. Neither 
does it seem the intention, to make any repairs — from the con- 
sciousness, no doubt, that their surrender is long since finally 
concluded, and only delayed on account of some triffling form- 
alities, at this or the other side of the Atlantic. I saw never- 
theless, in this paltry, despicable fortress, seven barrels salt, 
taken from an American Bateau by an American run-away, 
now a Brittish custom-house officer. It is forsooth! a port of 
entry, which a sturdy Yankee might pass without a fee. This 
practice could not be continued, if the whole country was set- 
tled, even if the post was not surrendered; as Americans could 
not, neither would bear much longer such an indignity; neither 
would a large force be required to set this garrison at defiance. 
An act of hostility, however, would in the present situation, 
be an act of imprudence — of rashness — as it might clogg our 
Government's negotiations — and the day is now fast approach- 
ing that it shall be peaceably surrendered, and the American 
stripes unfurled on this bulwark, when the Brittish Leopard 
may return with honour to his Canadian den. 

The commanding officer, a Rhode Island man by birth, 
Cap 1 Wickham, treated us with a great deal of politeness, and 
regretted to be unable to offer us refreshments, as the Can- 
adian sloop, which was for these, was not yet returned, but 
every hour expected. 


This frank and fearless veteran, was not at all alarmed at 
our appearance, or suspected that we might come to discover 
and betray the nakedness of this country and fort, entrusted to 
his charge. He inquired carelessly in the object Of our expe- 
dition, and made an offer of his aid, whenever he might be of 
any service to us, — and he did so effectually: It was through 
his management that the Brittish interpreter, thoroughly ac- 
quainted with Lake Ontario and its shores, agreed to conduct 
us to the Salmon-creek. 

This Mr. Price spend a part of his youth with Onondago In- 
dians. He was in the beginning discreet enough and civil 
throughout the whole of this excursion, but, his society, oth- 
erwise far from indifferent, lost a great part of its worth by his 
incessant swearing. It was indeed if he deemed it an accom- 
plishment. This was a pity indeed, as he was blessed by a 
bountiful God with various rare endowments, a sound judg- 
ment, a lively imagination, undaunted courage, with a frame of 
body so strong, that it baffled all fatigues;- so handsome that he 
did not want to stoop, wherever he wished to conquer. He 
was an ingenious mechanic indeed, excelling to whatever he 
bended his versatile genius. He made an excellent violin for 
one Mr. Gordon, an European, who was often pleased to say 
in its praise, that in Canada it might be offered for a Cremon- 

This Mr Price was our Palinurus — as soon we had entered 
our Bateau, which was about four in the afternoon, our raw 
hands rowed, Price was at the helm. We did sit on the middle 
bench; ere long we reached deep water. 

Lake Ontario resembles rather an open sea, than an inland 
reservoir of water. You look in vain for land to rest your eye 
upon. We arrived with a fresh breeze at four miles point, 
hoisted now our sail, passed it, and obtained then a view of a 
range of perpendicular rocks, which rendered a landing impos- 
sible and dangerous to approach them nearer. I cannot say 
that I was charmed at first with this prospect, and yet it was 


imposing enough — but I was become too much accustomed to 
peaceful rural scenes, to become at once enamoured with ob- 
jects of grandeur — risen and protruded by the woods — the 
waves and the rocks. Not one of our Argonauts, or he seemed 
pleased with the trip: what signified rowing where we might 
sail? Spread the canvass! how merrily glides our Bateau over 
the waves. Bernhard, one of our hands boasted on his sea- 
manship and experience. He doubted not. or he might bring 
a vessel in safety in the harbour — He had seen the narrows be- 
tween Long-Island and Staten-Island. Prize swoar that he was 
tired with steering and called with another curse our Pilot, to 
take care of the helm. Now he placed himself between us and 
smoaked his pipe. Our new steersman pointed every time 
towards shore, which he as often was compelled by a gen- 
eral command to steer more towards the middle — as we were 
now between the tremendous rocks at four and nine 'miles 
point. The wind suddenly increased — our Pilot turned again 
towards the Shore, and was anew for a moment by Prize's tre- 
mendous curses overawed to steer once more to deep water. 
But his increasing fear — not longer within his controul — a de- 
sultory animated conversation between DeZeng, Price and my- 
self, permitting him to follow the bias of his alarming impulse, 
and a pretty rough western wind carried us within a few mo- 
ments at a distance of a few rods only — towards these horrible 
perpendicular rocks — of which some seemed suspended over 
the watery surface. We were now in an imminent danger — a 
ship-wreck — by which the Bateau must have been dashed in 
pieces, seemed inevitable — and no live might have been saved, 
except, perhaps, that of Price. At once, a loud pitiful cry, 
"hold towards shore," struck our ears — Price did tear the oar 
from Barker's hand — commanded to lower the sail, and bring 
out the oars — but all in vain: The Pilot wept and cry'd — 
"hold towards shore Mr. Price — good Mr Price! push on shore, 
I pray God Almighty — Dear Mr. Price set on shore." Price's 
reply was "God damn your rascal! down the sail — out the oar 


— obey or sink! One of our boys sat nearly lifeless in the bow, 
the other near the mast ; pale as death, with staring eyes and 
with opened mouth. The danger increased to appearance — the 
surge rose higher and higher: our united strenght and weight, 
viz: DeZeng's and mine — were scarce sufficient to prevent the 
Bateau, turning upside down, twice did I actually see a great 
part of the bottom, twice I did see it naked — one half inch 
more and we had been lost. At last the sail was struck, the 
oar out, and we were only in part exposed to the first shock — 
while Price, who remained calm and alert, succeeded in for- 
cing the prow into the waves, and bringing us again in safety in 
deep water: when the danger was past — the terror of our crew 
abated, and I praised in my soul the Almighty — as I do yet 
this instant, for our hair-breath escape. 

Price remained now at the helm, and we proceeded on our 
course with a steady breeze, very pleasantly, except that De- 
Zeng and I were thoroughly soaked over our right side from 
top to toe — while our three hirelings grined that they were yet 
dry. This was our reward for our arduous struggle to avert a 
peril, which threatened to overwhelm us all. 

We entered, notwithstanding the foaming breakers a creek, 
of the middle size — three miles to the south of the little Sal- 
mon-creek — towed our bateau in an inlet and choase the 
heights for our encampment. Before our tent was pitched and 
our fire in full blaze, Price and Barker returned with a large 
eel and hugh catfish — which were more than sufficient for our 

We arrived on Tuesday at the little salmon-creek — Here was 
fish in the greatest abundance — Otsego, bass, perch, sunfish, 
catfish, eel, sheeps head, similar but superior in flavour — to 
that species called ncus braessen by the Dutch, and sword-fish. 
We speared a few of these, and cut of their heads, armed 
with swords — of five and six inches in lenght — without lush- 
ing the fish — as some of our crew pretended that it was of 
a poisonous nature — which I would doubt. It might be so m 


the sword: — it might be that this terrible weapon overawed the 
first examiners and roused their imagination to give birth to 
similar dreams. The meat certainly appears good — being solid, 
white — and lined with a milky substance. The Salmon col- 
lects here and in the big Salmon-creek in nearly incredible 
numbers, during the fall and spring. 

The soil along the shore is generally indifferent, seldom, to 
appearance, above mediocrity. Sand and stone at various dis- 
tances, intersected by swamps — A few pine — more Hemlocks 
and sometimes a cedar Brush. As soon you penetrate some- 
what deeper in the country its interior parts become more 
pleasing, the soil more fertile, more valuable the timber beach 
and maple re-appear, intermixed with oak and walnut — several 
mill-seats are on these large creeks. 

The wind was too vehement on Wednesday to proceed on 
our journey with such an ighorant and even cowardly crew — 
even the daring Price advised us not to run the risk — But he 
could not on any account be persuaded to remain longer with 
us, and flew out of sight in the woods. 

We heard the report of a gun, & another, and there was 
Price returned, he threw a couple of partridges at our feet, arid 
departed finally. 

We catched yellow perch, which indeed was exquisite, large 
pickrel and pike some two feet long. The Lake became more 
tempestuous — the wind blew a gale and our Typheus had left 
us. Now I could not conquer a rising wish to be reunited to 
a beloved family: Dear to my heart by so many ties — and en- 
joy with them that placid contentment in our peaceful abode 
in Ulster; and, when I felt that it was vain, it encreased for a 
few moments to a painful anguish. The thought that my pres- 
ence would be more and more longed for every day — that it 
was actually required there — the roughness of our hands, with 
whose intimacy I became disgusted — the want of a number of 
comforts and conveniences to which I was accustomed, and 
seemed now for the first time to become sensible of — all this 


with the uncertainty when we might leave this spot with safety, 
subdued for a while my sprightliness, and rendered me morose 
and sullen — but it was only a morning cloud, which passed by. 

The recollection, that He who rules and directs all for the 
best, restored my wonted equanimity, while De Zengs insinu- 
ating address and entertaining conversation soon again brought 
my feelings in union with his. The violence of the tempest 
increased with the falling night, and did not abate till the 
morning, when we compelled our pilot and crew to enter once 
more in the bateau. 

When we perceived that Barker brought us nearly in the 
same position as before, we listened to prudence advice, and 
considered it our duty to land in the same creek, which we had 
entered on monday. We took here, after we had rowed up 
this creek for two miles, a large quantity of Trout of various 
sizes — to regale us at dinner. 

Nothing, my Dear Sir ! resembles nearer the small rivulets 
and canals in South-Holland* than these creeks, as far as these 
are navigable. You see the same water plants and flowers — 
in some parts the conferva, covering a part of the surfaces — 
the same insects — the same serpentine wanderings. We took 
a walk after dinner a few miles in the country, following the 
course of the creek at some distance — when we found a rich 
soil, and here and there a mill-seat. A variety of huts, scat- 
tered along the creek, with a sort of sheds to dry eels, was a 
full proof that neither here was want of fish. The small river 
lobsters was here plentiful. The soil was full of stones near 
the creek, which diminished in proportion that we receeded 
from it. This fertile soil was covered with some oaks, beach 
and maple, in some parts mixed with walnut, chesnut and but- 
ternut. We returned about six o'clock to our encampment — 
but our Pilot and one of our hands were unwilling to embark 
that evening: tomorrow morning, this night they would start. 
The Lake was yet too high. At last however, being prevailed 
on one of our lads, we got them all, willing, unwilling, in the 


boat. We placed him whose good-will I had secured, at the 
helm. The pilot with his mate in mutiny at the oars and 
pushed forward deep enough in the lake, while De Zeng and I 
took a pogay in the hand, to prosper our course. 

Here we met with the bateau, from which the Brittish had 
secured a part of the cargo of salt, permitting it to depart, after 
the remainder had been redeemed. It proceeded to Cada- 
raghkin. A fresh westerly breeze with the falling evening, 
induced us to look out for a landing spot, in which we sooner 
and better succeeded than we could have expected. It was 
about two miles above nine miles point. The wind suddenly 
increased again : we hauled our bateau on dry land — so that 
we might not loose her during the night. 

It was now about eight aclock, the evening beautifully 
charming beyond expression : the bank on which we had 
pitched our tent was about four feet above the level of the 
shore : before our tent was a large fire in full blaze — the sky 
remarquably clear — a double colonnade of stately, broad- 
branched beach and birch trees, surrounding our encampment, 
planted as it seemed by our warmed imagination in a regular 
symmetry, without intercepting from our eyes the sight of the 
Lake, which was illumined by the moon. The soil appeared 
tolerably good, the bank continued to rise above us, but it was 
too late now for a more accurate examination. I was indeed 
charmed with this beautiful spot, the supper was welcome — 
we chatted away a part of the evening, before we perceived 
from the snoaring of our crew, that it was late, and high time 
to lay. down. My sleep was refreshing. I awoke with a re- 
newed ardour, and roused at breakday every soul in the tent, 
by my uninterrupted halloos. 

At six aclock we rowed already with all our might, and ar- 
rived about ten at the fort to our great satisfaction and joy. As 
there remained nothing in the place to keep our curiosity alive, 
we had soon our dinner prepared and dispatched, when ready 
to start, Cap' Wickham returning, from the woods with half a 


dozen pigeons in his hand, giveth us a friendly call. We left 
the Fort at one aclock, and made our encampmt that night 
three miles from the falls, after having walked one mile to 
lessen the freight of. the bateau — and now, my Dear Sir! you 
will enjoy with us, that we accomplished this journey without 
any real misfortune. The remainder must be of course riding 
post over the same ground, become now to us less interesting, 
and yet I wish to reserve the conclusion for my next. 



Kingston, 15 Aug. 1792. 

My Dear Sir! — Our breakfeast was in readiness at an early 
hour, neither did we tarry long ; all hands to the Bateau ! 
Speed, Boys! Speed! and the command was promptly exe- 
cuted. Our boat seemed to acquire a new vigour, either that 
he was satisfied fully with the lenght of this trip, or that he 
actually lounged for his home. We arrived at three river point 
about seven, discharged Mr Barker, and pitched our tent in the 
vicinity of his house, crowded with travellers from several bat- 
eaux and canoes, which tarried there since yesterday. Barker 
had caught, by throwing a line behind the bateau, four large 
Oswego Baas, the smallest of a foot long, which was the best 
part of our supper. 

I had how an opportunity of examining and witnessing the 
truth, of what the Baron had told me before of the curious 
manner, by which the chubs (Tziobs) hide their eggs. They 
deposit these along the rivers of Oswego and Onondago on 
shallow spots, and cover these afterwards with small pebbles, 
heaped in a conical form, some what below the surface of the 
water, while others were prominent above it. 

Need I tell you, my Dear Sir! that Fort Brewerton, which we 
reached at four in the afternoon, was to us a delightful sight. 
Cap 1 Bingham was from home on the Salmon-fishery, and 
Cap 1 Simonds with the women on a visit to the Island. His 
eldest Daughter, nevertheless! a smart young girl, prepared us a 
good supper — a baas of two pound — a dish with stewed eel, 
with fresh bread and butter. Our break-feast was congenial, 
having secured two capital eels, with a pot of milk and rice 
we hurried to the Island, and complimented Mr and Madame 
des Wattines on monday morning between nine and ten. We 
were again congratulated with a hearty welcome, and a new 
zest was added to our gratification, when Des Wattines pro- 
posed, to conduct us to the fish-creek or Oneyda-River, as he 
was compelled to go to the Onevda's for Indian corn. His 



garden was yet more pleasant — its value unquestionably had 
increased. Head lettuce Pursley (Porclain) string peas and 
kidney-beans were in full perfection. They would not be re- 
fused, and seemed, not satisfied, before we were provided with 
some store of their plenty, as they were pleased to call it — 
and then yet, they, as it were, compelled us by their kind, 
although nearly importune entreaties to accept a mesh of new 
potatoes: with a large catfish. Madame walked with us to the 
shore: there we stept in the bateau; one of his dogs had taken 
early a place in our canoe, the other did swimm behind it. 
Madame des Wattines with her Camille to her bosom, her 
eldest boy between her and his sister at her side, motionless, 
staring at us, with an expressive countenance, with features 
pourtraying, what her soul so keenly seemed to feel in that 
distressing moment of separation — adieu — Des Wattines! was 
all which we could distinguish. There stood that lovely, de- 
serted fair one ! not deserted as Ariadne — but nevertheless 
left alone — with three helpless children — alone ! on an Island 
on Oneyda Lake. I turned my head from this mournful ob- 
ject, and conquered with some reluctance these painful senti- 
ments which tortured my bosom. His dog followed our 
bateau swimming, and landed at lenght at the second Island, 
when he continued a white barking, and then returned, as we 
supposed, and Des Wattines assured us, to his mistress. 

We saw, before we reached the Creek, a summer shower, 
refreshing the Islands, on which no drop of rain had fallen 
since three weeks. So takes a bountiful Father care of those 
of his children, who are destitute of every other assistance. 
So he waters the wilderness refreshes the herbs in the desert, 
and fills the hearts of those that were languishing, with food 
and gladness. 

We took our dinner by P>ruce, where our milk and rice, 
which we purchased at Fort Hrewerton, was to all a palatable 
dish, then we bid a hearty fare-well to our recluse, presum- 
tivelv a fare well forever, and returned towards evening to the 


mouth of the fish -creek or Oneyda-River, from which we 
started for our expedition. De Watines prepared our Soupe 
of eel and cat-fish, while we superintended the pitching of our 
tent, and making a good fire. This was a truly social enter- 
tainment — our hearts were flushed with success, and the pros- 
pect before us of meeting ere long with our wives and chil- 
dren — and — having passed some of the great waters of the 
Western Lakes, it rendered our feelings exquisitely delightful. 

Here we were gratified with a visit, if it is not presumptuous 
to make use of such a familiar term, when I speak of a cas- 
ual meeting of such great folks as the first Judge Lansing, 
and Col. Lewis, the Attorney General of the State, and Major 
Farley, who all went to attend the circuit, and yet we consid- 
ered it a visit — as we too had been considered as great folks by 
some, who wanted our cash — as we were the first occupants of 
the soil — and this, according with the gift of, I know not of 
what ancient or modern Pontif — if it was not St. George or St 
Francis, the proprietors of the soil exclusively. We separated 
after conversation, they doomed to remain there till it pleased 
the westerly breese to abate; Des Watines parting from us in 
his bateau to the Oneyda-creek, and we proceeding with our 
canoe to the fish-creek or Oneyda-River. Here we met with 
one of our old acquaintance — Mr. Abraham Lansing, who 
with one Mr. Fonda went to Niagara. We stopt at the mouth 
of the Wood-creek. I concluded, while De Zeng with one of 
our lads was preparing our dinner to take with the other 
a view of the fish-creek. Before we started. Cap 1 Bingham 
returned with five barrels salmon, and sold us a fresh one. 

We rowed up the creek about three miles, and there landed 
on the side between the fish and wood-creek: here we met first 
with a broad girdle of fertile flat land, nearly east by west, 
then a long tract of pine chiefly, then beach, maple and oak. The 
lower parts at this side are often overflown. The land at the 
west-side is much higher, than that to the east. I ordered the 
boy to proceed higher up, and took a similar course landward 


in, and examined the soil from time to time, which I found 
generally fertile, although of a less favorable aspect towards 
the lake, and richer again in proportion that I took a North- 
western course. 

My opinion was as much formed from the variety of timber as 
from the soil, which through a partial and incorrect examination 
might have led me astray. I reached my canoe near the mouth of 
the wood-creek, entered it, and found after an absence of three 
hours the peas-porridge ready. We remained that evening two 
miles at this side of the oak-orchard, where we breakfeasted, 
and met about one mile from it Mess. Boon and Lincklaen, who, 
assisted by Mr. Morris, a Land-surveyor proceeded on a sim- 
ilar excursion. It was two a clock before we arrived at the 
widow Armstrong's cottage. In an instant the kettle was hung 
on the fire, to boil our fresh salmon. We made ourselves an 
ample compensation for our frugal repast at Breakfeast. The 
salmon was delicious enough, although not so fat, which, no 
doubt, was occasioned, that it was speared; but, certainly this 
one, though considered large, was much smaller than usually 
those on the river the Meuze. 

Amos Fuller, who resided now with his family at the widows, 
till he should be successful, as he said,, in purchasing a farm in 
this neighbourhood, informed us, that two past three Massachu- 
setts men, amongst whom one of his Brothers, had taken an ac- 
curate view of the tract from this point between the Canada- 
creek, then westward between the wood and fish-creek, and 
considered it upon the whole so valuable that they had offered 
to purchase a whole Town-ship, to pay a^'iooo by the deed of 
the Land, and the residue within a year, obliging themselves fur- 
ther, to settle it before April 1794 with thirty-five families. 

' We heard this identical tract described by others, ardently, 
perhaps, desiring to take it in their grasp, described as an 
indifferent tract of land, remarkably chiefly tor its hemlock, 
pine and swamps, which, perhaps! might fall short in defraying 
the expences of its survey. This difference of opinion can only 


accounted for in one way — not that judgment was biassed, 
but that secret motives induced the one and the other to over- 
rate or underrate Lands, to facilitate its sale or purchase — 
come a?id see then and examine for yourself and your friends. 
Fuller tacked his old horse to our canoe, and dragged it to 
Fort Bull; here I strode on poor Ronzinante — step by step — 
towards Fort Stanvvix, where the Baron, after a little while, ar- 
rived, having left our canoe and baggage one mile from the 
carrying place, by want of water. The canoe arrived next 
morning. We dined, in part on the new potatoes of Des Wat- 
ines, the well-come cup flowed over, and I sincerely thanked 
the Baron for his hospitable reception — for his manifold ser- 
vices and entertaining society — during a journey which re- 
quired such a good companion to smooth its roughness. His 
Lady was by her attention entitled to the same civilities. 'We 
took a cordial farewell. I stept on my horse, which was neat 
and plumb, rode to Whites-borough, visited Mr Piatt — once to 
be compared to Noord-kerk of Amsterdam — and then made a 
call to the good hearted Hugh White, asked for their com- 
mands, and slept that night at old Fort Schuyler by Mr 
Hansje Post. I was again on horseback early in the morning 
on Friday, and crossed the river. My oiled silk surtout coat 
defended me from the rain, which continued, without interrup- 
tion from five till eight. I had missed the road near the Ger- 
man flatts, but met good People, who with kindness convinced 
me, that I was on a bye-path. They had observed my inatten- 
tive mean, and asked where I went to? I crossed again the 
Mohawk, took breakfeast at M r Aldritz visited the Rev. Rose- 
krantz, and arrived at Cap 1 Bellinger's where I obtained for 
my dinner good chicken-broth. I stept at four on my horse, 
associated to another traveller, passed Canajahari, baited our 
horses by Hudson, crossed the Mohawk for the last time, tar- 
ried about an hour at the widow Schuylers, and slept that night 
nine miles further at Bankert's-inn — much fatigued and thor- 
oughly wet by a copious perspiration. 


The sight of several fields, from which they were reaping 
the rye, of others where the sheaves stood in array, made me 
double my speed. Looking steadily forward, and little caring 
of what I left behind, I discovered first at Simon Veder's at 
Cagnawagha that I had left my spurrs — it was fortunate, that 
I was not in want of these for my good horse. I breakfeasted 
at Putnam's on Trip's hill, stained over noon at Mabee's, six 
miles from Schenectadi — with out tasting a morsel, providing 
quietly for my beast, as the Landlady declined the trouble to 
prepare a roasted chicken for my dinner. I might have got 
some pork ! I enjoyed the satisfaction to find the Rev. Ro- 
meyn with his Lady and family in a perfect health. A good 
dish of tea with the delightful society of that respectable cler- 
gyman revived my spirits, so that I passed two agreeable hours 
with Him. I rode the same evening yet five miles further, 
and was before eight next morning under the hospitable roof 
of my worthy friend Dr Mancius. 

The Rev. de Ronde — a clergyman of four score years, who 
expatriated from one of the Land- Provinces, and settled in 
this State, many years past, was to officiate in the Dutch Church. 
I was tempted to be one of his hearers. His subject was rich 
enough "Who shall show us, what is good? Let the light of your 
countenance arise upon us O Lord!" a Bonnet — a Hulshoft — a 
Chevalier would have delivered a masterpiece. The good old 
Father, I believe, did as well as he could. But — accustomed as 
I was, to dainties, it was a hard fare to digest a coarser meed. In 
this respect, my Dear Sir! the time for our adopted country is 
yet to come — and I doubt not it will — but thus far, we are yet 
behind. I must acknowledge, however, I did not hear your 
New York clergy. If I had done so, I might have been 
prompted by justice to a recantation. 

I retreated after dinner, in silence, from the city, with the 
fear of the constable, ignorant, that I did attend Divine Worship 
in the morning, continually before my eyes. Slept at Cosachie 
and rode early on Monday morning through an incessant rain 


to Mr. Sax in the Imbogt. Let not your warm imagination 
make you suppose, that your learned Sax of Utrecht, whose 
talents I so often admired, and who deserved so well the ap- 
plause, which he earned by his Ojwmastico?i, had transplanted 
himself in the neighbourhood of the beautiful Hudson — then 
you could not have been long in suspense, while I made such 
a speed towards his house : no Sir ! It was the honest and 
industrious Hans Sax, perhaps descending from the same line- 
age. My breakfeast was soon in readiness, and I could not 
deny him the satisfaction, to give him the outlines of my excur- 
sion. From here I continued my route to Cap f Hendrick 
Schoonmaker — where I took a dish of tea, till a heavy thunder 
shower should have passed. My patience was exhausted at 
lenght, as the day was far gone, and submitted to ride nine 
miles further through a violent rain, before I could reach my 
dwelling. But not one single drop made any impression, except 
on my hat, face and hands, thanks to my sillk oiled coat! 

Joy was legible in efery countenance — my heart was glad 
and thankful, when I did see me so cordially received — when 
I felt myself embraced with so much tenderness by all, who 
were so dear to me. 

My dear John alone suffered under an intermittent fever, but 
that unwelcome visitor left us ere long, so that every thing is 
again in its old train: the Children at school, — Father in the 
field. Mother unwearied attentive to her many domestic con- 
cerns — all is bustle: — Ten loads of hay, eleven of rye, and 
fourteen of wheat are secured; the remainder mowed and 
reaped in the field — so that I must take hold of a few moments, 
early in the morning and late at evening 

My companion, more sanguine in his projects, and more ar- 
dent in their pursuit, had a much higher conception of this tract 
than your friend: to Him it was superior far exceeding all 
what he had seen in situation — in luxuriant fertility — in natural 
riches. No doubt it was gifted with it; it might by an active 
industry be transformed in an Eden! It may be so: it may 


be, that his views are nearer the truth: He had been on that 
spot before me, but it did not appear to me under such high 
glowing colours. I did see some very indifferent parts. I 
meant, to have discovered several barren spots: but in what 
tract of land — extended to 6 or 700,000 acres shall similar 
spots not. be discovered. Perhaps these may even exist to a 
much larger amount, than I do suspect, where we did not 
penetrate. The soil in my opinion is even less rich than that 
in Whites-town and at the Oriskany creek, but its cultivation 
shall be easier; it shall not bake, it shall not be hardened in 
the same manner in a dry season. 

I visited and examined this tract with the view to fix there 
my permanent residence, and obtain a valuable possession for 
my children, and your family. My Dear Friend had allways 
an equal share in these my contemplations and pursuits. I 
did not shrink at meeting in face some hardships, but visited 
it, and endeavoured to examine it, from creek to creek — not 
only near the water side, but often several miles in the inte- 
rior, to obtain a sufficient correct knowledge of its situation, of 
its real and relative value; and in this mind I do not hesitate, 
to make you this frank and honest confession, that I have not 
yet encountered in this state an equal extensive tract of land, 
on which I should prefer to end my course — if joined by a 
few respectable families, in the vicinity of a tolerable settle- 
ment, of which, if my wealth was equal to its acquisition, I 
should, in preference to all, which I have yet seen, desire to 
secure its possession. 

All the informations, which I have been able to collect, are 
in unison with my views, so that hereabout shall be the happy 
limit of our wanderings under Gods blessing. Several families 
have engaged to move thither, if I can procure them Lands 
at a moderate prize.* Give now once more a proof of that un- 
daunted courage, so often tried, and found adequate to the 
task, you manly engage in. Here the execution is chiefly in 
our hands: — who could hesitate, who crossed the Atlantic — not 


for the sake of lucre, but to secure for himself and his family 
an asylum against civil and religious oppression. You do not 
yet regret this step, and then I advised you to follow my ex- 
ample, and so you did. Here I may speak with greater con- 
fidence. I have been on the spot without intrest — unpreju- 
diced — as our actual residence is certainly desirable in several 
points of view; there all its improvements are of my own cre- 
ation, not without great expences, not without unrelenting per- 
sonal exertions. There, I am first beginning to gather the 
fruits of my labour, and have the well-grounded prospect of in- 
creasing advantages — there I am surrounded by kind neigh- 
bours, and at no great distance by respectable families, who 
treat us rather as near relations than as strangers, whose good 
will and kindnesses we have earned, and as we flatter our- 
selves, secured. But you — my Dear Sir! knew too well, that 
I have not yet learned to go by halves — that reluctantly I sub- 
mit to disappointments, and venture rather a fresh struggle — 
whatever may be the risk, than to give up a well digested plan; 
you know, that the yet required expensive, extended improve- 
ments are made impossible, though not thro' my own fault, 
neglect or carelessness, but happy for me, through them in 
whom I placed an unbounded confidence. 

Inform me of your plan and sentiments without disguise. 
My determination may be modified; it cannot be shaken. 

Adio — Your's 



These letters form a Journal of a tour by the author, from the Hudson to 
Lake Ontario, in the year 1792. They constitute one of several volumes of 
manuscripts entitled " The Vanderkemp Papers," presented to the Buffalo 
Historical Society by the author's granddaughter, Mrs. Pauline E. Henry 
of Philadelphia. 

The following letter of " Hibernicus " (De Witt Clinton) published in the 
Albany Statesman, sixty years ago, will greatly enhance the interest and au- 
thority of this Journal; for the "elder gentleman" referred to and de- 
scribed, is the author, Francis Adrian Vanderkemp, LL. D., or, as a MS. 
letter now in the possession of the Buffalo Historical Society (without signa- 
ture, but written by Mr. Clinton himself, as a comparison of handwriting 
shows), enclosing to him the identical newspaper cutting from which this let- 
ter is here printed, declares, " Mr. Vanderkemp sat for the future:" to 
which is added, Ki the likeness is a correct one." And the younger gentle- 
man is Col. Adam G. Mappa, the friend to whom nearly thirty years before, 
the Journal was addressed, in the form of letters; the two having finally taken 
up their abode at Olden Barneveld, later, and now, Trenton Village, Oneida 
Co., N. Y. 

The story of Dr. Vanderkemp's life is exceedingly interesting, as related 
in his manuscript autobiography, addressed to his son, Maj. John J. Vander- 
kemp, of Philadelphia, and forming a volume of the " Vanderkemp Papers." 
Indeed, the story is too interesting to be merely summarized, and when given 
to the public should be published complete. Its chief points are, however, 
touched and brought to view correctly in Mr. Clinton's graceful and warm- 
hearted letter. 



Western Region, September, iS;o. 
My Dear Sik: In one of my solitary walks with my gun on my shoulder and my dog 
by my side, I strayed eii;ht or ten miles from my lodgings; and, as I was muring on the 
beauties of the country, and meditating on the various and picturesque scenes which were 
constantly unfolding, I was roused from my reverie by voices which proceeded from per- 
sons at a short distance. In casting my eyes in that direction, I saw two venerable men 
with fishing rods in their hands*, angling for trout, in a copious and pellucid stream which 


rolled at their feet. I was hailed by them, and requested to approach, which 1 immediately 
did; and in exchanging salutations, I found that they were men of the world, perfectly ac- 
quainted with the courtesies of life. One of them held up a string of fine trout, and asked 
me in the most obliging manner to go home with them, and partake of the fruits of their 
amusement. Struck with the appearance of the strangers, and anxious to avail myself of 
the pleasure of their company, I did not hesitate to accept of this hospitable offer, on 
condition that they would permit me to add the wood-cock, snipe and wood-ducks which 
were suspended from my gun, to their acquisitions. This offer was kindly accepted. A 
general and desultory conversation ensued, and we arrived in a short time at a small vil- 
lage; and, on ascending the steps of an elegant house, I was congratulated by my new- 
friends on my entry into Olden Barneveld. In the course of an hour, dinner was served 
up: I sat down and enjoyed a treat worthy to be compared to the Symposion of Plato. I 
soon found that these venerable friends were emigrants from Holland — that they were 
men of highly cultivated minds, and polished manners — and that they had selected their 
habitations in this place, where they enjoyed 

" An elegant sufficiency, content. 
Retirement, rural quiet, friendship, books. 
Ease and alternate labour, useful life, 
Progressive virtue and approving Heaven." 

The elder of these gentlemen had received the best education which Holland could 
afford. He was brought up a clergyman, and, at the commencement of the American Rev- 
olution, he became its enthusiastic and energetic advocate, and wrote an able work in vin- 
dication of its character and conduct. In the struggles which subsequently took place in 
his native country, he sided with the patriots. His friend held a high military office dur- 
ing that commotion, and unites the frankness of a soldier and the refinement of a gentle- 
man, with the erudition of a scholar. 

During their residence in this country, they have been attentive to its interests. As far 
back as 1795, the elder gentleman proposed an Agricultural Society for this district, and 
addressed it in a luminous speech. 

I was penetrated with the most profound respect, when I witnessed the various and ex- 
pensive acquirements of this man. He is a perfect master of all the Greek and Roman 
authors — skilled in Hebrew, the Syriac, and the other oriental languages— with the Ger- 
man and French he is perfectly acquainted. His mind is a great and inexhaustible store- 
house of knowledge ; and I could perceive no deficiency, except in his not being perfectly 
acquainted with the modern discoveries in natural science, which arises in a great degree 
from his sequestered life. He manages an extensive.correspondence with many learned men 
in Europe, as well as America. And, although I had never heard of him before, yet 1 am hap- 
py to understand that his merits are justly appreciated by some of the first men in this country. 

He has lately been complimented with a degree of I >octor of Laws by a celebrated uni- 
versity of New England. He is now employed by the State of New York in translating 
its Dutch Records — and, through the munificence of David Parish, the great banker, he 
will be enabled to have transcripts of the Records of the Dutch West India Company to fill 
up an important chasm in the history of this great State. 

Thus, my friend, I have made a great discovery. In a secluded, unassuming village, I 
have discovered the most learned man in America, cultivating, like our first Parent, his 
beautiful and spacious garden with his own hands — cultivating literature and science — cul 
tivating the virtues which adorn the fire-side and the altar — cultivating t tie esteem ^f the 
wise and the good — and blessing with the radiations of his illumined and highly gifted 
mind, all who enjoy his conversation, and who are honoured by his correspondence. 



It was at first intended only to publish a portion of the Journal here pre- 
sented. But it was found difficult to select for this purpose without marring 
the completeness of the whole. 

The utmost care has been taken to reproduce the production exactly; for 
the methods of punctuation, capitalization and spelling, and the quaint 
forms and turns of expression which everywhere appear, and would be 
serious faults in an Englishman or American, here only serve to mark the gen- 
uineness of the writing as the work of a Hollander, using a foreign adopted 
language; this being only one, however, of the many, ancient and modern, 
with which he was, perhaps, equally familiar; while its interest for the reader 
is certainly thus greatly increased. 

To break the page with notes, or even with references to notes, is unde- 
sirable, unless necessary; and would especially injure a manuscript so clear 
and unblemished as that here printed. Such remarks then, as it has seemed 
best to make, have been collected as part of this Note, and are given below, 
grouped according to the several pages of this volume which they elucidate. 

This Journal furnishes a most interesting example, which the account of 
the writer's life would render all the more striking, of the influences which 
were at work in the latter part of the last century, leading to the settlement 
of this western part of the country in the beginning, and to the extension of 
settlements westward. The devotion to conscientiously cherished views of 
truth, the close observation, the wise judgment, the prophetic foresight, the 
enthusiasm, the spirit of self-sacrifice, perseverance and faith, manifested in 
maintaining positions assumed and courses entered upon, here exemplified, 
deserve to be recalled and regarded with admiration by those of later days, 
and recognized with thankfulness among those influences which have given 
to us this fair heritage. 

One point it will be desirable to notice here, apart from such reference to 
it as is made in the following remarks. At page 40 the reader will find re- 
markable and truly poetical foreshadowings of the great Erie Canal, which 
would appear to be original and independent forecasts of that magnificent 
work; such, however, as it may be obvious that a Hollander, from the land 
of artificial watercourses, might be most likely to think of, and set forth. 
The subject thus introduced, is further exhibited in relation, especially, to 
the question as to the origination of the idea of the Erie Canal, in papers ap- 
pearing later in this volume. 

It is of interest and proper here to mention, that Mrs. Thomas J. Si/er, 
of Buffalo, is a granddaughter of Col. Mappa, the recipient of these Jour- 



In the preparation of these, great assistance has been derived from manu- 
script notes, obligingly furnished, expressly for this publication, by B. B. 
Burt, Esq., of Oswego, N. Y., an authority of the first order in regard to 
matters historical and topographical, concerning the region visited by Dr. 
Vanderkemp. The notes furnished by him are designated (B. B. B.) 

Page 33. The manuscript title-page to the bound copy of this Journal is 
as follows: " Letters to Col. Adam G. Mappa, on a Tour through a part of 
the Western Destrici." This indefinite term, it will be noticed, is that used 
by DeWitt Clinton in dating his letter above given. Its general meaning 
will be apparent to any who observe upon the map that central portion of 
the State, surrounding Rome, Utica, Trenton Village, and neighboring 

The title page also bears this Latin motto: 

" Non ego Romulea, miror, quod Pastor in urbe 
Sceptra gerat. Pastor conditor urbis erat. 

G Buchanani, Frat. Fraer: p. 36." 

This may be thus, perhaps a little freely, rendered : 

In Romulus' town, I wonder not, to-day, 

To find the field-bred shepherd bearing sway ; 

Why, since he built, should he not rule it, pray ? 

Page 38. The passage on inland transportation by water through the 
State of New York, beginning, " Our inland navigation," may be properly 
connected with Col. Wm, A. Bird's paper on "Early New York State 
Transportation," in this volume, pp. 17-32. And it should be observed 
here how perfectly and beautifully this whole passage (pp. 38-41), notably 
the paragraph beginning, " Give me the disposal of fifty New York purses " 
foreshadows the plan, and the spirit that executed the plan, of the great Erie 
Canal ! 

"Fort Stanwix" is now Rome, Oneida Co., N. Y. 

Page 39. "Fort Breiverton* was and is at the west end of Oneida Lake. 

line 15. (B. B. B.) " So much is certain, d-v." The appro- 
priation here mentioned was for the use of the "Western Inland Lock Navi- 
gation Co.," which completed the canal in 1797. (See Yol. I., p. 159. Ed.) 

Page 40. 

M Tutto " 

•SV puo, quanJo si "'uole. 

Quite freely rendered is, " There's a way where there's a will." 

" Fossa Drusiana." The canal dug by the Roman General 

Drusus, connecting the Rhine and Yssel rivers, called also " Fossa Drusi." 


The word fossa (foss or ditch) may suggest that the name given to the Erie 
Canal of " Clinton's ditch," had, after all, a classic origin. 

" Niezaer S/uys" is the new sluice, channel, canal. 

" Cajus Popilius." When Antiochus Epiphanes was besieging 

Alexandrea during his differences with Cleopatra and Ptolemy, Caius Popi- 
lius Lamas, one of three deputies from the Roman Senate, arrived, and 
communicated a decree that Antiochus should make peace with Ptolemy, 
and leave Egypt. He sought to elude the decree by evasive answers, when 
Popilius haughtily drew a circle round him in the sand with a rod which he 
held in his hand, and ordered the monarch to give him an answer to carry- 
home to the Senate, before he stirred out of that circle. The astonished 
king hesitated, but soon obeyed and evacuated Egypt. 

Page 46. The " Grooten Imbogt" means the great bend. 

Pages 47 AND 102. "Rev. Romeyn" This is the Rev. Dirck Romeyn, 
the seventh pastor of the First Church of Schenectady. The Two-hundredth 
Anniversary of this church, lately passed, occasioned a historical discourse by 
Rev. \V. E. Grifhs, the present pastor, of much interest; in which occurs a 
tribute to Mr. Romeyn, portions of which maybe very suitably placed as apart 
of this note. To him "Schenectady owes grateful memory for having given it 
the first impulse to systematic public education. lie took the lead in this State 
in the support and patronage of classical learning; in securing the freedom 
of the Dutch Church in America from that of Holland; with the aid of Liv- 
ingston, in writing her Constitution and establishing her Theological Semin- 
ary (the oldest in America), and in organizing the Foreign Missionary work 
for all Christians. * * * He was the last of the line of preach- 
ers in Dutch. He himself often preached in English, settled the battle of 
the tongues, and persuaded the people to realize that they were no longer 
Dutch, Scotch or English, but for all time American. * * * At 
Dr. Romeyn's instance, under his influence and chairmanship, a meeting of 
the citizens was called in 1784, to build an Academy which was to become a 
College. * * * After ten years of prosperity, and through the 
prominent influence of Dr. Romeyn, aided greatly by Governor Yates, the 
Charter of Union College was obtained." 

Page 48'. Bringing together the three italicised words, "<<////," '• /si<:r," 
"/let/ni," and pronouncing them quickly in succession as one word, giving the 
sound of long " i " to eu in kertra, the name Canajoharie is very readily 
suggested, meaning, nearly, Sing of joy (or joyfully), Hurrah ' 

Pages 51, 54 AND 101. (B. B. B.) "Hugh White-," in 1798 \\a> ap- 
pointed one of the Judges of the Oneida Common Pleas. 

(B. B. B.) "J/>. Jonas Piatt" was appointed Clerk of Herkimer 


County, in 179S; and in the same year, on the organization of Oneida Coun- 
ty, was appointed Clerk of that county, and in 1814 appointed a Justice of 
the Supreme Court of the State of New York. 

Pages 51 and ioi. (B. B. B.) "Old Fort Schuyler. 1 ' This was at Utica, 
and the railroad depot there is on the site of it. 

Page 52. 

" Al/ana vient d \quus, dfc." 
This may be thus rendered : 

Al/ana comes from equus, without doubt ; 
But then we must, to speak the truth, declare, 
The way they take is very round-about, 
Who, in their journeying hither, come from there. 

PAGES 59 and ioi. (B. B. B.) The "Fort Bull" mentioned here was at 
the Mohawk River terminus of the carrying place between that river and 
Wood Creek, about two and one-half miles west of Fort Stanwix. 

Page 63, 7th line from bottom. "The Onondago and Oswego Rivers" 
See Note by B. B. B., page 97. 

Page 76. " Suo se virtute involvens" means, Wrapping himself in his 
own excellence. 

kl Ce/su/le, £rc." 

The sense of this may be thus given : 

A pleasant people, fond of th' arts; 

Sedate cr frivolous, by starts ; * 

As by a hundred winds they're borne. 

And a light hand their course can turn : 

The sport of every novelty. 

By character they're vain and gay, 

Yet reasoning in their vanity. 

Page So, line 11. " The largest and most westerly Island." See Note to 
page 97, by B. B. B. 

Page SS, line 17. (B. B. B.) " Arrived in Os7cego, <5rc." Oswego re- 
mained in possession of the British until July 15th, 1796, when it was sur- 
rendered under Jay's Treaty. (See Vol. I, pp. 158-9. Ed.) 

Page S9. (B. B. B.) " T-vo fortifications, &c" Vanderkemp refers to 
two fortifications at Oswego (as I understand it) at the commencement of 
his letter. He is mixed in his history of the facts. That " to the south" 
called " Fort Oswego," was constructed under Colonial Governor Burnet in 
1727, to strengthen the trading-post here. It was taken by Montcalm in 
August, 1756, destroyed and never rebuilt. That " to the north" was 
" Fort Ontario" (see Vol. I, p. 215. Ed.) built by the English under 
Lieut. Col. Mercer, between the Fall of 1735 and Summer of 1756 (see 
Smollett's History of England), attacked by Montcalm and taken in August, 
1756, destroyed and abandoned by the French, and soon thereafter taken 
possession of by the British, rebuilt, and occupied by them until surrendered 



The following paper, being a copy of an old document of 1792, furnished 
by B. B. Burt, Esq., in addition to the Notes above inserted, is of sufficient 
interest, as bearing upon some points in them alluded to, to warrant its in- 
sertion here. Errors in spelling &c, are, however, corrected, Mr. Cockburn 
being doubtless a better surveyor than writer. The remarks inserted be- 
tween brackets are by Mr. Burt. 

Remarks copied from " A survey of a tract of land, the property of John 

and Nicholas Roosevelt & Co., containing 538.966 acres. Surveyed A. 

Domini, 1792. 


" It would be needless here to give the courses and distances run in our 
traverse along Canada Creek, Wood Creek, Oneyda Lake, Onondaga River 
and Lake Ontario, as it neither tends to the amusement or knowledge of 
my employers. Let it suffice to say that we have traversed them all, and 
shall give a general description which will answer every purpose requisite to 
convey an idea of the quality and value of the soil, &c. 

The land along the west side of Canada Creek from the northwest corner 
of Funda's [Fonda's?] patent to where it empties into Wood Creek, appears 
to be good. It is, in general, a grey loam, but in some places is clay. As 
far as I have been back from the creek this land continues. But I am told 
at some distance further is a very bad cedar swamp. Although the distance 
from here to Fort Stanwix is not great, yet the passage is barred by a most 
tremendous cedar swamp. There is no other way into this reach (or any 
part of it), but by going either by Armstrong's (to which there is a good 
road), or by the north bounds of Funda's patent. The timber is beech, 
maple, birch, basswood, ash and hemlock, and some buttonwood along the 
creek. The salmon comes up the Canada Creek about three miles in June; 
they are likewise caught in November. There was a weir formerly at the 
mouth of the creek where numbers were caught; it is now down. At the 
junction of Canada Creek and Wood Creek is a good farm, possessed by 
widow Armstrong; she has about twenty acres cleared, and it is a good sit- 
uation for business, it being always a halting place for batteaux. The land 
from here all the way along Wood Creek is very fine from twenty to two 
hundred yards on the north side of the creek; and there is a very bad cedar 
swamp which extends back some distance; and behind that is a pine ridge 
which passengers generally take in coming up the creek, it being much 


shorter and less tedious than coming up in a boat. There is no plain path 
marked. I am doubtful whether a settlement could be made along Wood 
Creek, the good land being so narrow; and I imagine that in high water it 
is all overflowed; in which case there is no retreat, the swamp being lower 
than other land where they must build. Mr. James Dean, the Oneida Inter- 
preter, formerly settled about a mile above Fish Creek, where the vestiges of 
his improvements are to be seen. I am informed he quit the land on ac- 
count of its being so much overflowed. Fish Creek where it empties into 
Wood Creek is a fine stream, and water enough for vessels of any burthen. 
I am told that boats can go up above fourteen miles. From the mouth of 
Fish Creek to the mouth of Wood Creek the land is very low and swampy. 
Opposite the mouth is a bar from four to six feet of water. Last war the 
British had a flat bottomed boat, carrying 60 oxen, that went over this. There- 
fore, no obstruction to the navigation of the lake. Wood Creek at present 
is so crooked and so full of timber that it is with difficulty a common bat- 
teau can pass. From the mouth of Wood Creek for two miles along the 
Oneyda Lake is low, swampy land, some pine timber. But after the course 
of the lake turns to the west it is in general high land, but not mountain- 
ous. To Fisher's Bay Creek the soil is good, but in some places stony. 
Timber chiefly white oak, black oak, hickory and some few pines. There 
are two brooks besides Fisher's Bay, which I suppose large enough for mills. 
Fisher's Bay contains water enough all the year. The situation is unhealthy. 
Bruce is settled at the last mentioned creek; he lives by fishing; raises 
nothing. From Fisher's Bay to Fort Brewington [Brewerton?] the land in 
general is very swampy. In the deep bay is one of the worst swamps I ever 
saw. I am told it goes a great way back, is lower than the lake; makes it 
incapable of being drained. Here we had to traverse and chain with two 
canoes, the swamp being impassable. 

Fort Brewington is now in ruins. It was a square without bastions, 
mounting four guns, and commanded the river. It is in Staats' loca- 
tion. Bingham lives here. It is a good stand. There are two islands in 
the lake; the one about thirty, the other about twenty acres. On the wester- 
most lives a Frenchman and his family. There is no harbor on either of the 
islands for boats, and the beach is very stony. The soil of both islands is 
good. There are likewise three small ridges which are fast above water, and 
on each is a single tree. There is no verdure on them. The tree has a pretty 
effect to the eye. In June they are frequented for eggs, which the gulU and 
ducks lay here in abundance, below high-water mark. The land from Fort 
Brewington to three rivers is, in general, good. About eight miles from Fort 
Brewington is a fine spring, which is very uncommon in this country, I 
having seen no good water since I left Fort Stanwix. Even the creek-, which 


run into the lake, coming from the swamp, are very indifferent water. There 
is but one rapid in this, called Kequanderaga; the passage is not difficult. 
About four miles from Three Rivers is a creek called Peter Gaats. The 
country hereabout is swampy, and where I have been, back from the river, but 

At Three River Point, Barker lives on the military tract. Here the Sen- 
eca river comes in, which opens the communication with the Onondaga, 
Cayuga and Seneca lakes. Two miles below this is a rapid called Three 
River Rift, and very dangerous for batteaux in low water. The passage 
from thence to Oswego or Onondaga Falls [now Oswego Falls] is pretty 
good; the land, too, is in some places swampy, but generally pretty good. 
The land by the falls is a State reservation. There is here a fine place 
for a mill. The British had a saw-mill here, and a fort to protect the 
portage, which is two chains. But the rapid, with dangerous rocks, continues 
a mile below the carrying place, and is not to be attempted without a pilot. 
The country here abounds with pine, and the falls abound with Sturgeon, 
Catfish, Oswego Bass and Salmon. The Indians spear them coming up the 
falls. This they do with great dexterity. From the falls to Oswego the land 
is high, and in general a good soil, but in some places broken. The streams 
from the falls to Oswego are but small. Oswego P^ort ["Fort Ontario"] 
stands at the entrance of the river which it commands. I think a brig may 
come into the harbor with a north wind; the entrance is difficult. The com- 
manding officer would not allow me to survey within reach of his guns; we, 
however got near enough to make several [observations] on the flag staff, and 
I believe the point is laid down pretty exact. The fort is an irregular pen- 
tagon, and is garrisoned by a company of the royal Americans and a few ar- 
tillerymen. It is in very bad repair, and, I am informed, mounts not more 
than four carriage guns. At present the barracks is capable of containing a 
Regiment. There are no houses or inhabitants without the fort, and a cus- 
tom-house officer resides in the fort to stop any prohibited articles passing 
from the States to the British Colony. There is a great plenty of very fine 
fish here. They have a seine, but the soldiers catch more with hook and 
line than they can use. Two miles from Oswego is Two-Mile Pond, which 
is a swamp overflowed in spring and fall, which appears to continue some 
ways back. This place is sometimes called the French Landing. The land 
from here to Nine-Mile Point is, in general, good, and covered with beech and 
maple timber. The streams running into the lake are but small, and I think 
the land must be but poorly watered. After passing the point the land be- 
gins to be swampy, and continues so at intervals to Little Salmon Creek, 
which is a fine harbor with eight foot water at the bar, but very narrow. 
From here the soil is poor, and in some places sandy, to Salmon Creek [now 

1 1 6 EDITOR ' S NO TES. 

Salmon River], a good deal of Hemlock timber. There are nevertheless 
several fine brooks. I think mill places scarce in this country [A great mis- 
take.] The appearance of the water makes me believe most of the streams 
come from swamps, and from the levelness of the country I should imagine 
falls not often to be met with in this part of the country." 





Caelum, non animum mutant* 

Qui trans mare ciirrunt.* — Horace. 

The Buffalo Historical Society having for its purpose, "to 
discover, procure, and preserve whatsoever may relate to the 
history of Western New York in general, and of the City of 
Buffalo in particular," and, "of procuring and preserving au- 
thentic memorials of the history of the settlement of the city 
and county, and of the individuals who were its pioneers, and 
gave tone, direction, and character to its early history," the 
scope of its historical researches ought also to embrace that 
class of our population, though of foreign birth, who were 
among the very pioneers of our early settlers ; and those indi- 
viduals who, with their descendants, claim more than half of 
our present population, and who gave and give a very decided 
tone, direction and character to the history of Buffalo and her 
local affairs — I mean the German Americans. To supplement 
in this direction the excellent papers which have been read 
before this Societv, is the aim of the Essav which I have the 

* They who across the ocean range, 
Their sky, not disposition, change.— Ed. 



honor to read to you to-night. And, if it should be found 
wanting in its results, I may be allowed to add, rather by way of 
explanation than vindication, that this is the very first attempt 
at a history of the Germans of Buffalo ; that I had personally 
and alone to collect almost "all the material for the structure 
of this Essay ; that no resources whatever, in a literary sense, 
were at my command, and that while some gentlemen very 
readily placed their reminiscences at my disposal, but very 
few of our German clergy favored me with a helping hand in 
regard to statistical information about their churches and con- 
gregations, seemingly regarding my polite and earnest request 
for certain facts and figures as an unwarrantable infringement 
upon their dole e far niente. 

German immigration to this State dates back to the begin- 
ning of the last century. More correctly, it constituted colon- 
ization ; for the first Germans were shipped to New York — 
shipped like cattle — by the British government, to be colon- 
ized in this State, not for the welfare of the immigrants, but as 
victims for British greed. The indescribable vandalism of the 
French armies, under Turenne, in those nefarious robber-wars 
against South Germany on the one hand, and the brutal op- 
pression and criminal extortion and extravagance of the petty 
tyrants — at best but aping French despotism — on the other, 
drove the exasperated and desperate peasantry of South Ger- 
many, especially that of the Palatinate, which was most exposed 
to the vandalism of the French robber-armies, by thousands 
and thousands, to England, whence the British government 
shipped them to New York, and colonized them on the upper 
Hudson for the purpose of making tar for the British navy. 
Domestic tyranny they had escaped, but they had not ex- 
changed it for a better lot. The insolent British officers 
who were charged with overseeing their work, held them 
in almost abject servitude, and in the thievish avarice of 
the landed aristocracy, who cheated them most mercilessly in 
supplying their little daily wants, they had an after-taste of the 

-■!«. i7i.i<tiiniigi«li ■ ■ 


extortion which the foreign enemy at home had subjected them 
to. But their spirit of independence, once aroused, revolted 
against such treatment; they left their settlements, and in the 
Schoharie Valley built up new homes, amidst the greatest hard- 
ships imaginable. But here, too, they were persecuted by their 
heartless, merciless and avaricious tormentors. Once more 
they abandoned their homesteads, and part of them crossed the 
boundary of the State and settled in Pennsylvania, thus becom- 
ing the ancestors of the so-called Pennsylvania Dutchmen, 
while the others bargained for and obtained the Mohawk 
Valley for a new domicile. The Germans in the Mohawk 
Valley became, as is indelibly inscribed on the pages of the 
history of this country, the van-guard of the American Revolu- 
tion. To them our country owes Gen. Herkimer, the hero of 
the battle of Oriskany. The glorious Revolutionary War did 
not have more steadfast adherents to, and more loyal fighters 
for the cause of Independence, than those sturdy Palatines in 
New York and Pennsylvania. The New York Palatines are 
immortalized through Gen. Herkimer, and the Pennsylvania 
through Friedrich August Muehlenberg, one of the signers of 
the Declaration of Independence, and the first Speaker of the 
House of Representatives. Whoever, therefore, undertakes to 
stigmatize the Germans in this country as Hessians, simply 
exposes his profound ignorance of the history of this country 
to well-deserved ridicule. 

The German immigration to the Queen City of the Lakes 
does not antedate the second de'cade of the present century. 
Neither was it a mass immigration or colonization, as that of 
first German settlers in this country. Solitary they struggled 
to the shore of Lake Erie, some stray wanderers of the settle- 
ments in Pennsylvania. The first to enter the then village of 
Buffalo was John Kuecherer, still generally remembered as 
Water-John, so called because he represented the quasi water 
works of Buffalo, /. e., he was the water-carrier of the village- 
He came here in 182 1. About the antecendents of this first 

nHftiifuwr M*rf*M*»W-\W; 



German immigrant there is little, if anything, known. Not 
even his oldest child, a daughter, who is still living here, is 
able to give any information on that point. It is a character- 
istic feature in nearly all the children of all our old pioneers, 
this ignorance of their parental past, just as much as their 
estrangement to the mother-tongue. But it seems that Mr. 
Kuecherer had belonged to one of those emigration caravans 
which, all through the last century, from causes stated above, 
were driven from the Palatinate to England, and from there 
shipped to this country. He first had settled with his coun- 
trymen in Pennsylvania, and from there made his way to 
Buffalo, where he halted, and ended his days but a few years 
ago, at the advanced age of eighty-eight. 

- A year later, in 1822, the second German settled here, Jacob 
Siebold, who is also still widely remembered as one of our most 
energetic business men. He kept a grocery store on Main 
street, next to Hayen's present iron structure. He gained con- 
siderable wealth, having been one of the founders of the 
Board of Trade, and a director of the Buffalo Savings Bank. 
The third German came like the first, from the Palatine set- 
tlement in Pennsylvania, but considerably later, about 1826. 
He became the proprietor of the Cold -Springs Hotel, and in- 
troduced the first beer here, therewith paving the way in this 
then western wilderness for a new factor of culture, or at least 
a very flourishing and civilizing trade, which has become now- 
a-days a source of great prosperity to our community ; for 
\yherever Germans are they will surely build a homestead for 
Gambrinus, and where there is beer, there are Germans near. 
This beverage, so much decried, yet a recognized wholesome 
and strengthening stimulant, has certainly exerted a very be- 
nevolent, civilizing influence. It has cornered the whiskey de- 
mon and almost driven him to the wall. The name of the first 
brewer here was Baer. So little, however, of him has come 
down to posterity, that not even his Christian name is remem- 
bered any more. Of course, it was not such excellent lager 


as we are accustomed to in our days, that Mr. Baer brewed. 
It was that light, mild — I had almost said tea-rum like — bev- 
erage, called in North Germany, Kutscher-Bier, because it is 
drank on account of its cheapness, mostly, by Kutschers (hack 

Simultaneously, another German, Philip Meyerhoffer, made 
Buffalo his home; who is recorded in the first Village Directory 
of 1827, a teacher of language. He it was, also, who conducted 
the first German Protestant divine service here. 

If other Germans had at that time resided in Buffalo, there 
is no trace nor remembrance left of them. Long before Hor- 
ace Greeley uttered his memorable "Young man, go West," 
had the Germans acted on his advice; and there is not a west- 
ern State where the Germans have not been among its pioneers. 
Buffalo, at. that time, that is fifty-five years ago, was a western 
point, and it is most likely that as soon as " Clinton's ditch " was 
ready to convey the immigrants continuously west, they availed 
themselves of this opportunity. Besides, Mr. E. G. Grey, who 
came here in the Spring of '28, is positive in his memory, that 
he had already found seventy Germans settled here. Although 
Mr. Grey's assertion is not borne out by the first Village Direc- 
tory, it will nevertheless not lose much of its credit ; for that 
Directory is a very unreliable historical source, especially as to 
the then German inhabitants, and this for several reasons: 
1. It is but natural to suppose that the German immigrants, 
at that time, were very poor fellows, who hired out here and 
there to do the most menial work, and who, on account of their 
unacquaintance with the language, and the, to them, entirely 
strange surroundings, shunned all intercourse with their 
American neighbors. Therefore, it may have happened in 
nine out of ten cases, that- those shy foreigners escaped the 
attention of the enumerators for that Directory. 2. It may 
also be assumed with certainty, that the compilers of that Direc- 
tory were not perfect linguists, and for that reason mutilated 
some German names beyond recognition, or misspelled ochers 



according to the sound, and thereby anglicized them beyond 
the possible recovery of their identity. Take, for instance, the 
well-known name of John Kuecherer. It is spelt in the fust 
Directory as Kucherson, in the second, Ku/cherson, and so on, 
not once right. Mr. Siebold's name is always recorded as 
S<?/bold. Well, the misspelling of the German diphthong ie is 
an inveterate, almost undestroyable, weakness with our Ameri- 
cans. Add to this the tendency of a great many Germans, to 
anglicize their names themselves. For instance, Mr. Grau 
wants to be Mr. Grey ; Mr. Kunz, Mr. Koons ; Mr. Nuss, Mr. 
Nice ; Mr. Reich, Mr. Rich, <Scc. Then it must be readily con- 
ceded, that in an American Directory not all English-sounding 
names belong to genuine American-born inhabitants. Ten to 
one, a Checscman has been transformed from the German 
"Kaesemann"; Friday has been metamorphosed from "Frei- 
tag"; and under the transposed Kline, sticks a German " Klein." 
At least a dozen names can, therefore, in the first Directory, be 
reclaimed as of German origin. 

The first immigration in a body arrived in 1S27. It com- 
prised, among others whose names have been lost to memory, 
the Bronner family, of which Christian Bronner is still surviv- 
ing, he being thus the oldest German settler alive. In the fol- 
lowing year, however, 1S28, the immigration poured in like 
a rapid stream, which, since then, steadily increased in the 
years of 1830, 1840 and 1850, but fell off afterwards, and has 
now almost entirely ceased, but for a few stragglers. 

In that year came E. G. Grey, well-known to the student of 
local history as a ready and obliging informant, still hearty and 
vigorous; also Jacob Schenzin, widely and honorably known 
in this community, who gave Buffalo the first taste of genuine 
lager, and to whose " W.irthschaft " the Germans, in years past, 
were wont to undertake pilgrimages; another well-known 
brewer, Jacob Roos, whose name is preserved in Roos Street, 
also came in that year; Philip Beyer, the head of a now very 
numerous family, well stocked with political as well as social 


distinctions; George Goetz, George Metzger, Michael Hoiss, 
George Hoiss and Christopher Klump; the last six named being 
the first Germans who bought homesteads from the Holland 
Land Company. In the same year, quite a number of Alsa- 
cians domiciled here. There was Michael Mesmer, who for- 
merly in political- circles was known as a representative Ger- 
man; Joseph Haberstro, the father of our ex-sheriff; Anthony 
Feldman, the father of one of our present Justices of the Peace; 
George Gass, the grandfather of the well-known flour dealer, 
Mr. Urban; Mr. Pfeifer, father of Mrs. Philip Beyer; George 
Long, Joseph Suor, Sebastian and Friederich Rusch, Singer, and 
several others. 

The early settlers recruited themselves almost exclusively 
from South Germany and Alsace. This is a remarkable, but 
nevertheless an easily explainable, historical fact. The causes 
which led to the early mass emigration from South Germany 
have been briefly touched upon. They were the brutal and ex- 
travagant despotism of its petty princes, and the economical 
ruin which this political system of oppression and the devasta- 
tion of almost continuous wars brought upon the peasantry. 
Now, North Germany was also ruled by the iron hand of des- 
potism, but it was an intelligent one; while that of South Ger- 
many was criminally stupid. Furthermore, the despotic rulers 
of North Germany acted like patriarchs to their people; they 
lived economically themselves, and provided for the hungry 
and needy. This was especially the case with the Kings of 
Prussia. They conducted their internal affairs rigidly, like a 
well-balanced household, while their "cousins" over the Main 
exhausted and oppressed every productive faculty of their sub- 
jects. In Prussia, moreover, which largely represents North 
Germany, there always existed a well regulated Judiciary, in 
which the humblest subject had the fullest confidence, which 
was believed not to give the least preference to the grand and 
mighty, and to mete out justice, alike to the poor and rich. 

Voila des Judges a Berlin" went in Europe for a long time 


as a highly complimentary remark, and a recognition of the 
incorruptibility and uprightedness of the Prussian Judiciary. 
And, as under these circumstances the economical condition 
was at least bearable, it was, therefore, very late when the tide 
of emigration which set in so early in the southern part of Ger- 
many, struck also the north and northeast. North Germans, 
and, more so, Prussians, were at least late comers here in Buf- 
falo. The first large influx of Prussians were the Old Luth- 
erans, who had to leave their country on account of religious 
persecutions. They came here in 1839, several hundred strong, 
under the lead of their hard-persecuted and prison-escaped 
minister, Johann Andreas August Grabau. More of them 

Another strong and numerous element of North Germans 
our community received from Mecklenburg, that blessed state 
of "Pfaff und Junker," where, up to the formation of the North 
German Confederation, that ugliest and most revolting of all 
feudal institutions, the Jus Primers JYoctis, was in force. 
Would I speak as a partisan, I might say those Mecklenburgian 
immigrants have shown a large degree of intelligence, not 
only because they exchanged their land of abominable, feudal 
and mediaeval remnants for a country of personal and political 
liberty and equality to all, but also because they belong, nearly 
to a man, to the Republican party. They almost exclusively 
populate the populous seventh ward. 

That the Alsacians are included in the German immigration, is 
but natural, and historically and ethnographically correct. They 
have preserved their German language, habits and customs. 
They have allied themselves exclusively here with Germans. 
They were amongst the first to build German churches and 
German schools. They have organized German societies, and 
have propagated, in every shape and manner, everything that 
is essentially German. And last, but not least, whenever they 
have sought an office, they have done it as representatives of 
the German element. For the last-named occasion, however, 


even native-born Americans are neither shy nor ashamed to 
arrogate to themselves a few drops of German blood. 

From the year 1828, the immigration tide which had set in in- 
creased steadily, and kept equal pace with the natural growth 
of our city. Of the immigration of 1829, may be mentioned 
Dr. Devening, who was the first German elected to the Assem- 
bly. Of the immigration of 1830, just half a century ago, Dr. 
Fred. Dellenbach (Dellenbaugh) is still the most esteemed 
survivor, he having been the first German Alderman ; and of 
the immigration in 1S31, Messrs. John Greiner and Dr. John 
Hauenstein still hold prominent position in German society. 
It would be difficult, as well as invidious, to select from the 
immigration of the following years, which populated this city 
to fully one half with G-ermans, some single names, while it 
is evident that an enumeration of all of them would also be 
impossible. But the spirit of historical justice has to protest 
against the panegyrizing of sheer German office-hunters and 
successful German office-holders, as has been done by Gov. 
Gustav Koerner, in his work, "The German Element in the 
United States, from 1 Si 8 to 1S48," just published. Men with a 
rude education, or no education at all, unable either to intelli- 
gently use their own language, or master that of their adopted 
country, but possessed of that shrewdness which knows how to 
take advantage, for their own glory and pocket, of the ignor- 
ance of others under false pretenses, are by no means repre- 
sentative types of that honored nation of thinkers. A saloon 
or corner-grocery keeper, skillful and cunning enough to pack 
a ward caucus or control a district convention for a time being, 
and then claiming, in his insolent pretension, to carry the 
German vote in his pocket, and getting political rewards, is not 
a fit subject to be eulogized by a historian, as a respectful and 
respected type of his countrymen. Those men, with the often 
heard, and oftener still repeated, but always fraudulent and 
fallacious claim of having the German vote in their pocket, 
have been a curse to the Germans, because they have caused 

riiinrWi Urn 


the impression upon the non-German population, that the 
Germans are nothing better than voting cattle. There has not 
lived, nor is there living, a German in this country who has 
carried or carries the German vote either in his breeches or swal- 
low-tail coat pockets. True, there are Germans who, by their 
knowledge and intelligence, wield and have wielded great in- 
fluence amongst their countrymen; who, by their disinterested 
devotion to the moral and intellectual development of their 
element, and by their faithful exertion to preserve their native 
tongue, and to gain for them recognition and distinction in the 
political and social sphere, have a large and respectful and 
enthusiastic following; but those are not the men whom Gov. 
Koerner took as representatives of the German element, and 
on whom he wasted his eulogies. 

Of the large addition which our German population received 
in 1839, through the Old Lutherans, whom the intolerance of 
a Prussian King drove from their altars and their firesides, men- 
tion has already been made. Of the political fugitives, how- 
ever, of the Revolutionary War of '48, but few found in Buffalo 
a new home. The most prominent of these were Dr. Weiss, 
Dr. Baethig and the artist Carl Gruener, proprietor of the weli- 
known Gruener's Hotel. Our civil war had of course the ten- 
dency to discourage immigration in general, and afterwards the 
stream of immigration flowed further on, westward. And 
whatever has halted here during the last decade has hardly 
caused any ripple, because it was, so to say, a drop in the 

The German population in this city is now variously esti- 
mated at 60,000 to 75,000, with the probabilities for the cor- 
rectness of the latter and higher figure in accord with the An- 
nual Report of the Board of Health for the year 1879. This 
report states that during the year 1S78, there were of 3,7 29 
children born in this city, 1,985 of German parentage, 1,079 of 
American, 345 of Irish, 170 of English, 48 of Scotch. 62 of 
French, 31 of Polish, 5 of Dutch, and 4 of Italian parentage. 

- ■■«■». imlm ct. ^.i^^aiawMM — 


On this very remarkable exhibition of figures one of our Eng- 
lish morning papers commented thus: "It is well for Ameri- 
cans to scan these figures, and realize in what a contemptible 
minority they are in this Teutonic city." And this large Ger- 
man element, overshadowing in its number almost all other 
nationalities taken together, has a history of its own in its 
Press, Societies and Churches, all of which have given more or 
less tone, direction and character to the history of our beauti- 
ful city. 

And first, as to the Press, the now first great power. But 
before entering upon a historical sketch of the publications in 
the German language, it may not be amiss to answer a question 
which has rather frequently been put individually as well as 
in public print. What's the use, anyhow, of a German Press 
in this country? Do not the naturalized Germans become 
American citizens, sharing alike the duties and rights of na- 
tive-born citizens? Should they then not have the same in- 
terests at heart? Is not the language in which the organic 
saw of this country has been enacted, in which the statutes of 
our parliamentary bodies are issued, justice rendered and in- 
justice prevented, in short, our whole government carried on, 
the English one? Should not therefore the German Press be 
regarded rather as an impediment to the desirable amalgama- 
tion of all the foreign elements that find a common country 
on this soil of liberty? Whosoever allows his mind to be ag- 
gravated by such reflections has not given this subject a 
thoughtful moment. Let us see. Who constitute the greater 
part of immigration? The peasants, the husbandry from the 
villages and towns, the mechanics and tradesmen of the cities. 
They come to a country strange to them in its form of govern- 
ment, stranger still in its idiom. They do not come to study 
the English language or the republican form of government, 
but they come to make a living, to get, by honest toil, bread 
and butter for themselves — a comfortable home for their fami- 
lies. In the pursuit of their material happiness they may pick 


up enough of the English language to get along in their every- 
day life, but not enough to read your newspapers, to listen to 
your stump-speakers, to understand intelligently the workings 
of the system of your government. And yet in due course of 
time they become citizens, vested with the sovereign right of 
suffrage. Think only, if you would have a million voters cast- 
ing their votes without understanding what for and why! There 
it is where the unavoidable necessity of the German Press steps 
in. The German Press makes the new immigrant acquainted 
in his own language with our system of government and its 
workings; acquaints him with the virtues, vices, and tenets of 
political parties, with the issues of the day, with the laws of 
the country, with the proceedings of legislative bodies; and, by 
the time he becomes naturalized and deposits his first ballot 
as an American citizen, he is intellectually a sound, loyal Ameri- 
can, worthy of and capable of intelligently performing the sov- 
ereign right of suffrage, even if he is still wanting in the Eng- 
lish idiom to express himself. The German immigrant is the 
more eager to read his German newspaper, as it is not only the 
only source for him to make himself acquainted with the 
peculiarities of his new home, but also the only source of his 
continuous intellectual connection with the land of his birth, 
in the events of which he naturally feels a vivid and undying 
interest. And this much can truthfully be said for the Ger- 
man Press in this country — and I can say it from an experience 
gained during ten years' connection with it — that whatever 
their other faults, mistakes and shortcomings may be, the Re- 
public has no more devoted, no more loyal, no abler adherents 
than the German newspapers, without any exception. Hie 
republican spirit of this government, if its preservation should 
depend only on the German Press, would never die out; the 
German Press is therefore a necessity for this country; it makes 
the German population loyal and intelligent citizens. 

Considering this task as a moving cause and justification for 
its existence, the first German newspaper made its appearance 


in Buffalo, as early as 1837. It bore the cosmopolitan name of 
" Der Weltbuerger," and started into life on the second of De- 
cember of the year named. It was a very neat little sheet, 
19x25, gotten up in a very handsome, creditable, typographical 
style. Its publisher was George Zahm, who also kept a Ger- 
man bookstore, and its editor, St. Molitor. It justified its ap- 
pearance in an announcement at the head of its columns, thus: 
" The number of the German population of Buffalo has increased 
largely during the last four or five years, and the commercial 
as well as political circumstances of this city have become of 
such great significance for the Germans living here, that the 
appearance of a newspaper in the German language has long 
been felt as an urgent need. Its aim is the instruction of the 
Germans in the politics of this country, and the communica- 
tion of the most important American and European events. 
As this instruction will be one of its main purposes, it will ad- 
vocate no special party, but try to develope independently and 
impartially those principles which are necessary to the preser- 
vation of the Constitution. On the more important political 
questions the views of both parties will be presented, in order 
to enable the readers to form their own judgment. It must, 
however, energetically protest against the unjust persecution 
of the European immigrants, and draw their attention to those 
rights which are guaranteed to them by the Constitution and 
laws." These views are stilL more elaborated in a long and 
very ably written explanation on the second page, in which the 
Germans are urged, in spite of the confessed independence of 
the paper itself, to take sides with the contesting parties, lest 
they lose their influence and significance as citizens. Once 
more it is recommended as their first duty to preserve pure 
and unabridged that document based on democratic founda- 
tion, which the wise patriots of the great Republic have left as 
a legacy to their posterity. And, finally, there is an indignant 
condemnation of the disgraceful agitation and purposes of the 
Know-Nothing party. The rest of the paper is made up oi two 

- -L~.- ... — i. 



literary articles, one entitled " The Influence of Intellectual 
Occupation on the Human Character," the other "The Hump- 
backed Musicians;" a fable; a review of the week's political 
events in the different parts of Europe; of the news of the 
neighborhood, especially Canada; of some local items, and a 
market report. The fourth page contains the advertisements, 
the most conspicuous of which is a half double column of the 
hardware store of Patterson Bro's., with a very fine cut of their 
business place, eight business cards of lawyers, a business card 
of Samuel F. Pratt and Dorsheimer & Co., two grocery adver- 
tisements, and a list of German books which were for sale in the 
book-store of its publisher. The list contains the classical works 
of Schiller and Koerner, Langbein's poems, Zschokke's Works, 
Gellert's Fables, Muenchausen's Travels, Knigge's Compliment- 
ary Book, and a long series of Prayer, Mission and Song books, 
Catechisms and tracts of the different denominations. This 
gives some idea on what kind of intellectual food the Germans 
at that time were fed in this country. The "Weltbuerger" re- 
mained under the proprietorship of George Zahm till 1843, when 
k passed into the hands of Brunck & Domedion. In 1S48. an- 
other German Weekly was started by Carl Esslinger, called the 
"Demokrat." It, however, changed hands, a year and a half 
later, Carl de Haas and a Mr. Knapp becoming ; ts proprietors, 
who made it a Daily, — the first German Daily in Buffalo. In 
1853? the " Weltbuerger " was amalgamated with the "Demo- 
krat " under the firm of Brunck, Held & Co., Mr. Held having 
bought out the interest of Mr. Knapp. The "Weltbuerger" 
was kept up as a Weekly of the " Demokrat," and is still so, to 
this day. In 1859, Carl de Haas severed his connection with 
Brunck & Held; and on June t, 1873, Dr. Brunck also left the 
firm. Mr. Fred Held is now sole proprietor and publisher of 
both the oldest and most nourishing German Daily and Weekly. 
The "Demokrat" was and is what its name indicates, a Dem- 
ocratic paper, strongly partisan in the height and heat of the 
campaign period, but a little more indulgent and independent. 

rtrtrt—^-.i r-ii.Hi- ■■ 


and under its new regime sometimes decidedly so, in off-cam- 
paign times. 

Once in motion, the " boom " of newspaper-starting flour- 
ished lustily. In 1840, Mr. John M. Meyer issued a campaign 
Weekly, the " Yolksfreund," in the interest of the Whig party. 
In 1843, the same gentleman tried it again in connection with 
Mr. Alexander Krause, and issued another Weekly, the " Frei- 
muethige," which hardly survived the campaign. In 1845, the 
" Telegraph " was established by Mr. H. B. Miller, as a Weekly. 
It grew into a Daily in '54, under the proprietorship of Miller 
& Bender. Afterwards, Mr. Philip "H. Bender became its sole 
proprietor. It passed into possession of Mr. F. Geib, but gave 
up its ghost in '73. Politically, it supported first the Whigs, 
and when they were superseded by the Republican party, it 
became a stanch advocate of that party. 

In 1850, the ' ; Luegenfeind " made its appearance, a very 
spicy little sheet, published and edited by J. Marie, an organ 
of the Free Christian congregation. It struggled for a preca- 
rious living for two years, and then vanished. The " Licht- 
freund " tried to take its place in 1855, but its publisher and 
editor, Joseph Egenter, met with no better success. 

In the same year another Weekly came to life, a little sheet, 
the " Freie Presse." It lived on quietly for seventeen years, 
when it suddenly, in 1872, was rejuvenated and issued as a 
Daily, as a laughing heir to the " Telegraph." Its publishers 
were first, Fred. Reinecke, then Reinecke, Zesch & Baltz, and 
now Reinecke & Zesch. It claims to be a Republican organ. 
In 1S57, Messrs. Young fc Vogt published the " Buffalo 
Patriot," a Daily, whose existence did not count many days. 
Still more abortive was the " Buffalo Union," a Daily started 
in February, 1863, by Reinecke & Storck. Its parents did not 
seem to be able to keep it alive, as it died after a two days' 
existence. The same year, Messrs. Nauert, Hansman & Co. 
published the ''Buffalo Journal," which, after a few months, 
Mr. Bender absorbed by purchase. Next in order was a 


religio-political paper, the " Volksfreund," started in 1868 by 
the "German Printing Association," and devoted alike to the 
interests of the Roman Catholic church and the Democratic 
party. On the sixteenth day of October, 1875, the author of this 
essay issued the " Daily Republikaner," an uncompromising 
Republican paper, in name as well as in fact. On the first of 
January, 1878, its proprietary rights were transferred to the 
German Republican Printing Association, the editorial man- 
agement remaining in the same hands until November 1 ith, 
1879, and a week later the " Republikaner" was consolidated 
with the "■ Freie Presse." About two years ago there sprang 
into existence another politico-religious paper, the " Evangel- 
ische Gemeindezeitung," devoted, as it alleged, to political in- 
dependence and the interests of the Protestant church, 
because, as it asserted, the German secular Press is generally 
a disregarder of and scoffer at every religious (meaning ecclesi- 
astical) feeling. But it was soon compelled to change its (for 
a large class of very liberal and free-minded Germans) too 
ecclesiastical name into a more harmless one: M Volksblatt 
fuer Stadt und Land." Its momentary success encouraged its 
leading spirits, the Rev. Berner and Messmer, to convert the 
Weekly into a Daily, which, however, was so far from being a 
success, that its issue had to be suspended on the last day of 
January last. 

The first German Sunday paper was issued in September, 

1875, by Haas, Nauert &: Klein, called the "Sunday Herald," 
but after a few months stopped publication. In January, 

1876, another German Sunday paper made its appearance, the 
"Tribuene," published by some printers on a strike. Corres- 
ponding to its origin, it gradually dropped into an advocate of 
socialism, and taking advantage of the existing state of feeling 
amongst workingmen during the great railroad strikes in j 87 7, 
it appeared during the hot fall campaign of that year as a 
Daily. Failing, however, of political success, and being con- 
ducted by an illy-qualified editor, it fell, immediately after the 


election, into total disrepute, and had to suspend publication 
in April, i8;3. The Sunday issue was, however, continued 
by the German Republican Printing Association, which had 
purchased the material of the defunct paper. The latest 
German newspiper venture was the most ill-begotten one. It 
was also a Sunday paper, called the "Arbeiterstimme am Erie," 
started in the summer, 1878; an out-and-out communistic sheet 
of the Dennis Kearney type and tone. But it hardly survived 
the fall campaign. 

Finally, there are two more German publications to be men- 
tioned, both Weeklies, and both exclusively devoted to Roman 
Catholic literature — the ''Aurora, " by C. Wieckmann, since 
1858, and the 4i Christliche Woche," published by Rev. Joseph 
Sorg, since February, 1875. 

In this Ion:?, long list of German publications of longer or 
shorter existence (there have at one time, not long ago, been 
five German Dailies, besides a more than corresponding num- 
ber of Weeklies, published here), the numerical and intellectual 
strength of our Germans is more or less represented. They 
represented every shade and grade of the social, political and 
religious problems that occupy a thinking mind; it is greatly 
to be regretted that they have passed away, or pass on entirely 
ignored by the English Press, or English-speaking public. 

Whilst the German Press was and is the instructor of the 
German element, the ardent advocates of its political claims, 
and the protector of its social qualities against any and all out- 
side attacks, the essence of the German character and its 
peculiarities were preserved, strengthened and kept almost 
intact by the numerous, almost innumerable societies of the 
most different and varied kind. 

Nearly forty years ago the first German society was started 
in this city. It was on the tenth of May, 1S41, when nine young 
men joined together to form a German and English Literary 
Society. These praiseworthy young men felt the need of not 
.only acquainting themselves with the literature of their adopted 


country, but also of preserving and enriching their knowledge 
of the literature of their old home. But the latter part of this 
object was soon made its principal feature, as outlined in the 
By-laws of their Incorporation Act, in which the object of their 
society was described to be: "To propagate the knowledge of 
the treasures of the German literature, and to cause the pres- 
ervation of the German language and the growth of the Ger- 
. man spirit and self-conscience. It was therefore an especially 
German society, and, accordingly, it soon afterwards changed 
its name into "German Young Men's Society." The more sur- 
prising, therefore, must be the remarkable fact, that out of the 
nine founders of this society there was only one who could at 
that time, geographically speaking, be considered a German. 
Those founders were: F. A. Georger, now President of the 
German Bank; John Hauenstein, at present one of the most 
well-to-do physicians; Jacob Beyer, ex-Police Commissioner; 
eorge Beyer, Stephen Bettinger, Karl Neidhardt, George F. 
PfeifTer; Wilhelm Rudolph and Adam Schlagder. Of these, 
one, Mr. Bettinger, was born in Lorrraine; two, Messrs. Hauen- 
stein and Rudolph, hailed from Switzerland; five, the Messrs. 
Beyer, Neidhardt, Georger and Pfeiffer, were Alsacians; and 
the only Schlagder was from Germany proper, the Palatinate. 
This remarkable fact tends to prove that the French had no 
claim whatever on Alsace and Lorraine, which were and 
happily now again are German. The membership of this soci- 
ety increased from nine to two hundred and thirty last 
year; and its library, which started with sixty-four volumes, to 
six thousand two hundred and ninety-nine volumes. It is the 
only society of its kind in the United States. 

Wherever Germans are you may be sure to find them asso- 
ciated for some kind of sociability, where they are at liberty 
to exhibit their innate social qualities and peculiarities. To 
the American, the fireside is all and everything. Not so with 
the German. However cheerful and comfortable a home may 
look, it lacks, in his opinion, the spirit of a good-humored 



crowd, that "Gemuethlichkeit " which is alike unknown to 
English society and the English vocabulary. Therefore, where- 
ever there is a German settlement on the face of the globe, there 
is a German singing society, or Turnverein or some sort of so- 
cial association incarnating the full enjoyment of life so graphi- 
cally described by Martin Luther: 

Wer nicht liebt Wein, Weib and Gesang, 
Der bleibt ein Narr scin Leben lang. 
(Who does not love wine, wife and song 
Remains a fool his life long.) 

As soon, therefore, as the Germans of Buffalo grew to any re- 
spectable number, they organized singing societies, the oldest 
of which is the Liedertafel. It was founded, May 9, 1848. Its 
first officers were: H. Wiser, President; F. Albrecht, Secretary; 
C. Huis, Treasurer; A. Wunderlin, Librarian. The following 
gentlemen served as musical directors: John Dossert, J. Hod- 
dick, C. Adam, W. Groscurt, Sig. J. Nuno, Joseph Mischka, 
C. F. W. Mueller and now again Mr. Joseph Mischka. On 
May 9, 1873, it celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary. In 1853 
another singing society, " Das Lieder-kraenzchen " was 
formed, from which the " Saengerbund " emerged, April 20, 
1855, with the following members: C. W. Brawn, H. Duehr- 
feldt, C. Voss, E. Besser, A. Holzhausen, and nine others. The 
musical instructors of this society were: C. W. Braun and 
Professor Friedrich Federlein. It is a thoroughly German so- 
ciety, untouched by the least spark of Americanism, represent- 
ing almost solely and exclusively the German middle class. In 
1878 it celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary. In 1869 two 
singing societies were formed at once, the " Harugari-Maen- 
nerchor," on September 19th, and the "Orpheus" on October 
29th, of that year; the first one an association of members of 
the Harugari order, the latter originating from the Liedertafel, 
with the following founders: A. Brunn, A. B. Felgemacher, 
Otto Ulbrich, F. Lautz. A. Lautz, C. Kroll, M. Stark and some 
others. Their first musical director was Ernst Schultz, their 

■ ■fc a i .- r , «i. r .. . .,. „ , »■ , M^ , t n i*41^*M n ,, * , M,rMmM« ** u«to*«*mi* , i .i.***.m* K- f, )„.■ i r r mtufrl i r I f i ii '-« i^afc^M^^ 


present one Carl Adam. There are some other singing soci- 
eties, but of less note, such as the "Buffalo Maennerchor," 
" Frohsinn," and the "Helvetia Gesangverein." 

A very significant place in the history of the Germans of 
this country the Turnvereine occupy. The culture of manhood 
and gymnastical exercises being their professed object, they 
have also supported every progressive and enlightened meas- 
ure in political and social life, and stood up manfully for 
the rights and an equal treatment of the naturalized citizens 
with the native born. No more obstinate phalanx had the 
Know-Nothings of the past and have those of the present to 
overcome than the Turners. In their National Convention 
(Bundes-Tagsatzung) held here in Buffalo in 1856, they de- 
clared slavery a nuisance to the Republic, and its abolishment 
an urgent necessity. And when the War of Emancipation finally 
broke out, the Turners were among the first that enlisted for 
the cause of Union and Liberty. The existence of the Buffalo 
Turnverein was at one time endangered, so many of its -mem- 
bers having enlisted in the New York Turner Regiment. But 
of late they have evidently lost caste. Politics has caused a 
lack of harmony in their councils, and at their last National 
Convention in Cleveland thay adopted such a radical platform, 
embodying some socialistic theorems and a demand for the 
abolishment of the presidency, that they repelled the more 
conservative element. 

The Buffalo Turnverein was organized March 7th, 1853, in 
Roth's Frail on Michigan street. Its founders were twenty in 
number, as follows: Louis Allgewaehr, Gustav and Frederic 
Duehrfeldt, Herman Weber, Heinrich Nauert, Gustav Spitz- 
nagel, Martin Riebling, Karl and Gotthard Krech, Ed. Gerst- 
enhauer, Wilhelm Moeser, A. Liesenhopp, John HatYner, An- 
ton Heilman, Geo. Hirsch, Valentine Friedrich, James von 
Arx, G. Bachman, G. Berger, and A. Kaltenegger. This 
society had, in its early days, many a battle to fight with the 
rowdy element, who tried to disturb their theatrical entertain- 


ments and picnics. In these battles their training in gymnas- 
tics proved of great advantage to them. They are the only 
German society here which possesses a property of their own, 
the well-known Turn Hall on Ellicott street, a most conven- 
ient hall for any social gathering. The renovated theater in 
that hall is a model of its kind. 

As early as their other Associations, the Germans also organ- 
ized their lodges, and there are hardly any of the so-called 
secret societies in which the Germans are not represented by 
lodges, organized by them. The first German lodge was the 
"Walhalla " of the order of Odd Fellows, organized in 1847. 
Since that time the German lodges have almost grown to be 
numberless. The first German Free Mason Lodge was 
formed by James Wenz, Dr. Ehrman, Moritz Eschenbach and 
Jacob Weil in 1849, and called "Concordia." A year and a 
half later the " Modestia " was organized, and in 1870, a third 
lodge was instituted, the " Harmonia." An order, especially 
German, is the " Harugari." By its constitution it is directed 
and pledged to use the German language exclusively in its 
proceedings, and to its utmost to preserve the German lan- 
guage in this country. The first lodge of this order was 
founded in 1848 and named the "Columbia Lodge, No. it." 
The second was the "Goethe, No. 36," but both soon dis- 
solved. The following lodges were then founded, which are 
still in existence: Black Rock Lodge, No. 35, in 1853; Che- 
rusker, No. 47, in 1854; Robert Blum, No. 54, in 1855; Buf- 
falo, No. jo, in i860; Ludwigs, No. 105, Buffalo Plains, No. 
in, and German, No. 119, all three in 1865; Erie Co., No. 
165, in 186S; Goethe, No. 222, in 1870; Loche, in 1875; Bal- 
dur, in 1876, and Freundschaft in the same year. On Janu- 
ary 5th, 1868, the Harugari Life Insurance Co. was organized, 
which pays $500, in caseof the death of any member, to the fam- 
ily of the deceased. This order is in a most flourishing condition. 

Although the Germans are generally thought to lean toward 
infidelity, by the more straight-laced Anglo-Saxon race, yet, 


they never remained long after their settlement without their 
clergy and churches. The very history of the German im- 
migration is indissolubly connected with the German clergy, 
who were their leaders and advisers. But their churches have 
for decades been nothing but the plainest kind of frame 
-structures, shanties largely, and their ministers have had 
to live on a very limited salary, not exceeding $800 or $1000 
at best, even if a congregation numbered over a thousand 
members. An exception to this rule are the German Cath- 
olics, who, guided, controlled and inspired by what is known 
to be the strongest kind of centralization, the Roman Hier- 
archy, have built sky-ward, towering cathedrals, marble 
churches; and established all kinds of religious institutions, 
provided with all possible comfort. The first German church 
here was a Catholic one. It was the St. Louis church, a most 
primitive log structure, erected in 1832, with the help of their 
Protestant countrymen, on the site on which the now stately 
structure stands, which site was donated for that purpose by 
that eminent pioneer, Monsieur Le Coulteulx. But the first 
divine service had already been held in 1828, in a room over 
Koons & Handel's store on Main street, Carl Meyerhoffer, the 
teacher of languages, officiating as minister, and performing 
whatever ministerial duties were required of him. In 1S35 
the German Catholics, who were almost exclusively Aisacians, 
combined with the Frenchmen, replaced the log-house of the 
St. Louis church with the large, solid, brick structure which is 
still in use. The first pastor of this church was Rev. Johannes 
Maerz, who was followed in 1835 by the Rev. Mr. Pax. The 
present minister is Rev. Joseph M. Sorg, born in Buffalo and 
baptized in the church of which he is now the esteemed and 
revered spiritual head. To the St. Louis church the German 
Catholics have added St. Mary's, St. Michael's, St. Boniface's, 
St. Anne's, the Church of the Seven Dolores, and St. Francis 
Xavier. With each of these churches a parochial school is 
connected, and one and another kind of charitable institu- 


tions. They also, a few years ago, built an orphan asylum. 

The German Protestant churches are divided according to 
their different denominations. There are Evangelical, Luth- 
eran and Old Lutheran churches, Baptists and Methodists, and 
churches of the Evangelical Association. The German Bap- 
tists and Methodists are outgrowths of the Anglo-American 
sectionalism. No Presbyterian or Episcopalian churches are 
amongst the Germans of Buffalo. % 

As heretofore remarked, the first German Protestant service 
was held as early as 1828. From the small gathering of worship- 
ers in the room over Kocns & Handel's grocery store on Main 
Street, originated the first German Protestant congregation, 
which was organized on the tenth of February, 1832, with the 
following trustees: Jacob Siebold, Rudolph Baer, Ernst G. 
Grey, Christian Bronner, Christian Lapp, and Fred Dellen- 
bach. The corner-stone to their church, which was called St. 
Joannes, was laid on Hickory Street, on September 9th, 1835, 
but it took eight years before it could be dedicated (in 1843.) 
Then it began to prosper, and the congregation soon outgrew 
the capacity of the church. It became necessary to enlarge it, 
prcr in 1874 a new building in gothic style, 65x116, was erected. 
The first pastor of this congregation was Rev. F. D. Guenther, 
of whom a son is still living in this city, but entirely estranged 
from the German element. Rev. Guenther's successor was the 
present pastor. Rev. Christian Volz. The St. Joannes congre- 
gation established an orphan asylum at Sulphur Springs, which 
was destroyed by fire in 1876, but was soon rebuilt in a more 
solid style. 

An offspring of St. Joannes church is St. Paul's on Wash- 
ington Street, better known as Burger's church, so called after 
its former pastor, Otto Burger, under whose ministry it be- 
came the most prominent German Protestant church in the 
city. The secession from the mother church took place in 
1S43. From this church originated again in 1853, the St. 
Stephen's church, after its most efficient minister, Frederick 

i. iiHr«rn«»»T» 


Schelle. It began with twenty-one families, and numbers now 
over seven hundred members, the strongest German Protestant 
congregation. Its first pastor was Rev. Karl F. Soldan, whose 
successor, Rev. F. Schelle, proved a most genial minister, the 
type of a liberal, scholarly German clergyman. 

In 1833, Rev. Goembel, from Wuertemberg, organized the 
St. Peter's congregation, which at first consisted of but one 
family who crossed with him the ocean, from his old home. In 
1835 they got a present of the little frame building of the 
First Presbyterian congregation, on Pearl near Niagara Street, 
which they removed to the corner of Genesee and Hickory 
Streets. With the increase of immigration, the congregation 
soon became one of the strongest, their most prominent pastor 
being Rev. George S. Vogt, who served as minister of St. Peter's 
for twenty-seven years. In 1875 he resigned, and built the St. 
Jacobus church, and organized a congregation of his own. 
The other churches belonging to the same denomination are: 
the Zion's congregation, corner of Spruce and Cherry Streets, 
organized in 1S45; the Salem's congregation on Sherman 
Street, organized in 1873, and the St. Marcus' on Oak Street, 
a daughter-church of St. Paul's, organized on August 5th, 1S73. 
Their first minister was E. Schornstein, who was succeeded on 
July 4th, 1875, by Dr. G. A. Zimmermann, under whose min- 
istry the congregation built their beautiful church. Dr. Zim- 
mermann resigned in July, 1S78, and Rev. O. H. Kraft, a theo- 
logian who gained his education at German Universities be- 
came his successor. * He still serves his congregation. 

The formation of Old Lutheran congregations in this city is 
due to a famous historical event, namely, to the union of the 
Reformed and Lutheran churches in Prussia by King Frederic 
William III. in the first half of our century. But some of the 
Lutheran clergymen were not willing to sacrifice the traditions 
of their church and their conscience to the dictators- interfer- 
ence of the King, and openly defied the new union. One of 
these clergymen was Pastor Grabau, of St. Andreas' church in 


Erfurt. He was imprisoned for his defiance to the royal decree, 
but afterwards permitted to emigrate with his faithful adherents. 
And so the Old Lutherans came over to this country of re- 
ligious liberty in 1839, and settled here in Buffalo, October 5th 
of the same year. Here Rev. Grabau founded the Trinity 
church, corner Goodell and Maple Streets, and conducted it 
until his death, which occurred June 2d, 1879. Rev. Grabau 
was at one time much spoken of in public, being a genuine 
type of the ecclesia militans and acquiring the sobriquet, ** The 
Lutheran Pope." In the interest of his old faith he issued a 
monthly theological magazine, and founded a German Martin 
Luther Seminary for the education of young ministers. In 
1858, an Old Lutheran branch church, St. Andreas', was founded 
on Peckham Street. The congregation built at once their own 
church, which was dedicated July 10th, 1859. i\.s long as it 
belonged to the Lutheran synod of Buffalo, it was administered 
to by the Rev. W. Grabau, a son of the Rev. J. A. Grabau, 
but when it seceded from this synod in 1866, Pastor Grabau 
resigned and was succeeded by Rev. P. Brand, the present min- 
ister, Rev. A.Christian Grossberger becoming his successor in 
1869. Under him it was that the congregation erected a two 
story school-house, which was dedicated Sept. 3d, 1871. The 
first teacher of this school was Fr. Lloffmeyer; its present one, 
John Roberts. It numbers about two hundred scholars, while 
the congregation consists of one hundred and fifty families. 
Its executive board are: John G. Langner, Jobst Keinkeder 
and Ch. Pohlman; and its trustees: H. W. Kreinheder, Frank 
Kimmer, Ernst Thiesfeld, Aug. Geigle, J. Kohlmann. 

The first congregation of the German Methodist Episcopal 
church was organized in 1846, by John Sautser. Their first 
church, built in 1847, was on the corner of Sycamore and Ash 
streets, which afterwards became a police station. Their pres- 
ent church was erected on Mortimer Street, in 1875. 

The German Baptists are organized in three congregations, 
the first of which was founded in 1848 by Alexander von Putt- 

^>M*i ni" -- •-- 


kammer, of a very aristocratic family, to which the present 
minister of public worship and ecclesiastical affairs in Prussia 
belongs. It consisted of seventy members at its organization, 
and numbers now one hundred and ninety-six. Its house of 
worship is now on Spruce Street. Its present pastor, Rev. 
C. Bodenbender, is a very efficient minister. 

The second congregation was organized in 1858 by Rev. 
Edward Gruetzner, and holds its services on Hickory Street. 
The third congregation was started in 1875, and has use of the 
Mission Chapel on High and Mulberry streets. 

There are yet a number of other German Protestant churches 
here, but I was unable to obtain the facts or data in regard to 
them. With each of these churches a school is connected — a 
day school or a Sunday school, and in some cases both. These 
schools and churches are the most powerful agents in keeping 
alive and preserving the German language in this country. 

The first attempt to introduce the German language into 
our public schools was undertaken nearly forty years ago, 
when Aid. Park introduced in the meeting of the Common 
Council on January 14th, 185 1, a resolution in favor of employ- 
ing one male and one female teacher to teach the German lan- 
guage in the public schools Xos. n, 12, 13 and 15. This mo- 
tion was lost, all voting against it but the mover. The attempt 
was renewed fifteen years later with complete success. The 
then Superintendent of Schools, Mr. John S. Fosdick, recom- 
mended the plan warmly, and Mr. Richard Flach, of the Fourth 
ward, the Chairman of the School Committee, introduced in 
the Common Council meeting of August 20th, 1S6S, the fol- 
lowing resolution: 

Resolved, That the Superintendent of Schools, under the direction of the 
Committee on Schools, be authorized to employ two experienced ami com- 
petent teachers of German, at a salary not exceeding $1,000 a year, and thai 
these teachers be assigned to public schools Nos. 12, 13, 15 and 31, under 
such regulations of the Superintendent of Schools as the Committee on 
Schools may prescribe. 

A N B/S TOR II h ^ £. * $A V. 1 43 

This resolution was unanimously adopted. The number of 
German teachers was soon increased to four. But in the 
Comptroller's estimate for the year 1873, the item for the 
support of these four German teachers was omitted, which 
omission was interpreted as a move to discontinue the in- 
struction of the German language, whereupon the most excit- 
ing debate that the Common Council ever witnessed arose 
upon this subject, and, nearly jeopardized the adoption of the 
whole estimate for the' fiscal year. The omission was not 
corrected, and the four teachers dismissed. Whereupon the 
Germans organized, under the leadership of the famous Com- 
mittee of Thirty-five, for the following fall campaign, to main- 
tain their rights at the ballot-box; and they won a decisive 
victory at the municipal elections by the defeat of every one 
whom the Germans held as directly or indirectly responsible 
for the dismissal of the German teachers. The politicians 
learned which way the wind blew, and hastened to right the 
wrong and conciliate the German voters. The Common 
Council of 1874 passed a resolution appointing six lady 
teachers, or as many as there would be a demand for, to 
teach the German language in the public schools. This 
system is still in working order. The average number of 
children who partook in this institution during the past year, 
was 1874, of which 1557 were of German parentage. 

The military spirit with which the Germans are imbued al- 
most from boyhood, manifests itself amongst them also in this 
country. We find them here participating already in the so- 
called Patriot War in 1837, to which they furnished two compa- 
nies, the Steuben Guard, under Capt. George Zahn, and the 
Lafayette Guard, under the command of Dr. Dellenbaugh. 
In the late war for the Union, Buffalo furnished an entire 
regiment of Germans, the 65th, besides a battery, which Col. 
Michael Wiedrich organized, and under whom Christopher 
Schmidt and Jacob Schenkelberger served as lieutenants. 
The 65th Regiment took the field under the following officers: 


Col. Jacob Kressner, later Col. Wm. F. Behrens, Major Wm. 
Scheu, Quartermaster Richard Flach, who later became its 

With such numbers the Germans became and are still, a 
power in politics, and shared largely in its rewards. The first 
office which a German filled was that of Alderman, Dr. Del- 
lenbaugh being the first German elected to the Common 
Council in 1837. Since then, our municipal legislative body 
has almost continuously had one or more German members — 
at one time, as many as eight. The next body in which they 
were most numerously represented, was the Assembly. Dr. 
Devening was the first member of it from Buffalo, in 1835. 
Of the more remunerative county offices, Dr. Brunck held 
the office of County Treasurer in 1863-66, and Mr. Joseph 
L. Haberstro enjoyed the emoluments of the Sheriff's office in 
1877, '78 and '79. The Mayoralty they first gained in the 
Centennial year, 1876, Mr. Philip Becker being the first Ger- 
man Mayor of this city, and he was succeeded by another 
German, Mr. Solomon Scheu. The only federal office held by 
a German was that of Postmaster, by Mr. Philip Dorsheimer. 

Thus it is apparent that the Germans, by their numbers, 
through their press, churches, social and political associations, 
have given, and are giving, a very decided tone, direction and 
character to the development of Buffalo and her local affairs, 
and have become a factor with which not only the present has 
to figure, but which is also worthy of further historical re- 
searches, as well as future observations. 





It is finished. Well done! Such brief record of success 
and approval is the best part of history. This Historical So- 
ciety, which it is so very pleasant to me to visit, in its twenty 
years' life has many such records. It is finished. Well done! 
Such record has been made of its first officers, and of nearly 
all its founders. We think sadly but gratefully of those van- 
ished forms, benignant presences, that gave order, dignity, 
progress, to our beginnings. They created an institution which 
this community, we hope, is too wise ever to neglect. 

A beneficent person, nobly fulfilling the relations of life, is 
the grandest product of this world. How can we speak of the 
value of such person, man or woman? We belong to each 
other. Members of a community are of so much value indi- 
vidually and together, mutually invested for the common ben- 
efit. And that value, — the principal and interest, — thought, 
affection, conscience, earnest life, virtuous character, — such 
value, enriching us at home and in society, who can estimate 
it! Such large intelligence, generous sympathy, sweet chari- 
ties and grand, courageous beneficence, who can tell how much 
they all are worth! And when a man or woman has become 
rich in these unseen, spiritual values, and sends out influences 


^■tli—- - ' ' - : "-'"" ••' ■•'*'• -' v '■'"'•'""'" ---^~- ., - HL-—^-»«ta«M»gfafr-~-t -.Si, ....-,.. ...w.-.. .-,-..;. .1. .-,,; ,,.,_-, ,-.:*-* 


to make others good and happy, we are glad to hold such an 
one as our own, and cleave to him with better hope and rea- 
son than the miser cleaves to his gilt-edged stocks. But the 
most valued friend may depart, and we must mourn our loss. 
And when our hair has. turned gray, and our cotemporaries, 
who have given us sympathy, power or inspiration, are going 
away (so frequently and so many), and we not so familiar with 
the coming as with the departing actors, it seems to us very 
sad sometimes, and the elders may be heard saying: "The 
former days were better than these; we are the people and 
wisdom will die with us. This city or that State is not what 
it was once." Alas for our old age when it comes so bereft of 
hope. Why, — has not God kept human society going from 
the beginning until now? It is absurd to doubt it. The young 
enter into the labors of their progenitors, and begin in a large 
measure on their results. Inventors and discoverers bring 
new methods, open the gates to new fields of action; and so 
progress is the outcome of industry, intelligence and fidelity, 
from age to age. But as we old men think of the elders whom 
we have known here, the pioneers and builders of this beauti- 
ful city, with whom we, in our day, tried, I hope, to do our 
part — as we think of them, so many noble men and women, so 
intelligent and enterprising, and now gone, it is hard to be of 
good cheer unless we look up, and live in readiness to go too. 
Buffalo had a great birth time, and its pioneers and builders 
were something more than ordinary men. The city had hardly 
come to life before the beginning of the Erie Canal. That en- 
terprise astonished the country. It made all look westward. 
For two generations New England had been trying to make 
an Eldorado out of what is now Maine and Vermont, but it 
was too cold and hard, and lumber forests could not last long; 
and when DeWitt Clinton and his coadjutors proclaimed the 
possibility of the Erie Canal, and when, in 1S25, New York put 
the fact before the world, and went by water from Buffalo to 
New York City, and from all the open lakes to the sea, it was 


an invitation tc ;he world to come and partake in the greatest 

and richest inla d commerce the world had ever seen. The in- 
vitation was widely accepted. The hamlet of Buffalo, that in a 
quarter of a century had got up to be an ambitious village, in 
ten years from the opening of the canal grew to a city of nearly 
twenty thousand inhabitants, with a harbor built against the 
fury of lake storms, and wharves and warehouses to accomo- 
date a large fleet of vessels and steamers trading on all the 
lakes; and some of those steamers of 1836 and 1838 were large 
and fine, models of naval architecture — the Buffalo, the Cleve- 
land, the Illinois, Madison and Jefferson. Buffalo merchants 
then thought the world was to go by water. We might look 
far in the history of the world up to 1826, to find so much 
done in twelve years as was done between 1826 and 1838, at 
and around Buffalo. Since then, Cincinnati, St. Louis and 
Chicago have shown their marvels of growth — but Buffalo was 
the beginning of the West. As I have said, the men and women 
who came here by the Erie Canal were something more than 
ordinary, — they had eyes to see, alert attention, and judgment 
to appreciate a good opportunity, — they had courage for ad- 
venture and hardship. Those men and women who founded 
this city were here when I came, in 1836. Urban condidit — He 
founded the city — is on the monument of Judge Wilkeson at 
Forest Lawn; and I suppose it may more justly stand on his 
monument than on any other — he did so much of the rough, 
hard work; he, more than any other, put the harbor against the 
fury of lake storms. Urbem'condidit, let it stand. 

But others worked with him in making Buffalo ready for the 

In January, 1864, I delivered the Annual Address before this 
Society. I called it, "The Physiognomy of Buffalo." Allow 
me to refer to that address, and give you some of the facts about 
the beginning of Buffalo. 

The Canal Commissioners held a meeting in the hall of the 
Eagle Tavern in the Summer of 1821, DeWitt Clinton, Cover- 


nor, Chi jman; Stephen Van Rensselaer, the Patroon; Henry 
Seymou , Myron Holley and Samuel Young, his associates. 
Mr. Joseph Dart was there, and is my authority. The ques- 
tion was, should Buffalo or Black Rock be the western term- 
inus of the Canal? General Peter B. Porter and Judge Wilke- 
son, chief speakers. Buffalo would be the city. But could it 
be? Great expense to be incurred. The State would not pay 
it, and Samuel Wilkeson, Oliver Forward, Charles Townsend 
and George Coit signed a bond of $12,000, and gave it to the 
State to loan the money to Buffalo. Now the means were in 
hand, and Judge Wilkeson began the breakwater and pier at 
the mouth of Buffalo Creek. 

Henry Lovejoy told me that he, with two hundred men with 
shovels, went, to the breakwater in the Spring of 1822, expect- 
ing the break-up of the ice. They waited all day, but at night 
the break-up came, and it was a great trial to the breakwater, 
but the work stood; the fascines were over-turned, but kept 
their place, and are now under the pier. 

So came the Buffalo of 1836! We can see the old signs now 
along the docks, and upon Main Street — Joy & Webster, Shel- 
don Thompson &: Co., Smith <$: Macy, Wilkeson &: Beals, 
Townsend &. Coit, Hollister Brothers, Oliver Forward, Reuben 
B. Heacock, Judge Love, Dr. Johnson, Pratt & Co., William 
Williams, S. N. Callender, N. P. Sprague, General Potter, Al- 
bert H. Tracy, Millard Fillmore, N. K. Hall, Ira A. Blossom, 
H. K. Smith, Barker, Hawley & Sill, and physicians and min- 
isters. I should like to call all their names as they come up 
to me. I have always thought it was a remarkable company 
of men here in Buffalo, in that first period of the city. They 
had unusual practical force, and there were many among them 
with uncommon intellectual power. They compare favorably 
with the builders of other young cities of the West, whom I 
have known. And there were here in Buffalo, forty years ago, 
a company of women superior as the men. The new life 
quickened them, and gave spirit and force to the culture 


and habits J ey brought with them from older communities. 
. Such is th canvass and background for the portrait I would 
set before you. In May, 1827, the second year after the canal 
was opened, Oliver Gray Steele came to Buffalo. He was 
twenty-two years old. Up to this time, life had made him no 
brilliant promises. He was born in New Haven, Connecticut, 
December 16, 1805. His family was respectable; he attended 
public school until he was twelve years old: then for two years 
he was with a relative in New York City as a message-boy; 
then again at home, and was apprenticed to the book-binding 
business, and finished learning his trade in Norwalk, Connecti- 
cut. Early in 1827 we see the young journeyman in New 
York, jn his freedom-suit, with very little money in his pocket 
and no constant Work to be found. He struck for the West, 
which at that time was Buffalo. Here, in May, 1827, he found 
our old friend, R. W. Haskins, and went to work for him, — glad 
enough, no doubt, to be earning something, — and for about three 
years went on, receiving five dollars a week and board. In 
1830, he went into business for himself as bookseller and book- 
binder. Here, now, we find O. G. Steele, twenty-four years 
old, on his own feet, in a little store and shop in the Ellicott 
Square Block, and the next year he moved into larger and finer 
quarters in the Townsend Block, on the west side of Main 
Street, below Swan. And now he married Miss Sarah E. Hull, 
grand-daughter of Judge Zenas Barker, a lady of unusual force 
of character, and always active in the social life and charities 
of the city. 

Think of our friend, the bridegroom, as he stands there in 
the door of Steele's book-store. He is twenty-five years old. 
We have seen his hard, naked life thus far, and he now stands 
among the business men of the young city, and is as hopeful 
for it and for himself as anybody; and down on the corner of 
Ellicott and Eagle streets he has a pretty home. Such progress 
was possible then, but such rapid growth is not likely to be en- 
during; so much sail and so little hold makes play for the 


temp< :. Our friend found it so in 1835-6; but he was equal 
to th emergency, turned his hand to meet it, and still con- 
trived to keep some hold of his book-store. But, for himself, 
he put on his bookbinder's apron and went to work in the up- 
per shop, as he knew how to do, and looked, as I remember, 
cheerful and hopeful, for he knew that labor conquers all 
things — and so it did for him. After awhile the apron was left on 
the bench up-stairs, and he was down selling books in the store. 
So we find Mr. Steele in 1837-8. At this time begin his in- 
terest and labors for public education, which make the most 
useful and honorable part of his life. He was about thirty- 
three years old, and had not been in school a day after he was 
twelve, and he became Superintendent of Public Schools in 
Buffalo, and was successful. How could it be? He had a be- 
ginning in those public schools of New Haven, and he caught 
education as he came along. He had very remarkable powers 
of perception. He touched, saw and heard things, and his 
mind laid hold of them with retentive grasp. The little mes- 
sage-boy in New York was at school all the time. The book- 
binder's apprentice caught and held — absorbed — the contents of 
the books he bound; then he read when other people slept. 
When I first knew him, at thirty years of age, he was a quick, 
intelligent man, with mind very active, and a deal of common 
sense. Public schools hardly had existence in Buffalo in 1836. 
As soon as I was settled in the city that year, I asked Colonel 
Blossom if there were no free public schools. "Yes," he said, 
" partly free, but in part supported by tuition fees." I asked him 
where they were, as I wished to visit them. He could not tell 
me, but he and I looked them up. One was in a back cellar 
room under the Universalist church on Washington Street; one 
was in the alley between Franklin and Delaware streets; one 
was in a back street east of Main Street near George Palmer's; 
one out at Cold Spring, and another in the southeast part of 
the city. Seven in all — very crowded, uncomfortable places, 
hard and unhealthy to teachers and pupils; and in all these 


little pens, January 1, 1838, there were one hundred and sev- 
enty-nine pupils. The most of the children of the city were in 
private schools at very large expense. The poorer quarter of the 
community must send their children to these public schools — in 
part free, but so unfit. This state of things could not by borne 
by people from New England. In 1836 there was uneasiness, 
and in 1837 a change was begun. Judge N. K. Hall and a few 
gentlemen took hold of the subject of improved legislation, and 
in 1837, 1838 and 1839 the free public school system of Buffalo 
was complete nearly as now. The Central School came in the 
due development. In 1837 the changes began. A Superin- 
tendent was wanted. It was not an office that anybody cov- 
eted. Mr. R. W. Haskins accepted it, but almost immediately 
resigned. Mr. N. P. Sprague was urged to take it, and he con- 
sulted with his minister, proposing to him to do the work and 
have the small salary, while he would nominally hold the of- 
fice. At that time ministers in New York could not hold office; 
but the minister thought it was not wise to try such an experi- 
ment, and Mr. Sprague declined to accept the appointment, so 
the office went begging. Mr. Steele was interested; he saw 
what could be made of the public schools; and, young and in- 
experienced as he was, the office was offered to him, and, hap- 
pily for the city, he at once accepted it. Men of to-day little 
know how much had to be done, first to get public consent, 
and then legislation, and then levy taxes and build school- 
houses for our free public schools. Judge Hall, Mr. Steele 
and some others were very earnestly active in all this. Many 
opposed as earnestly. When School-house No. 10, on Dela- 
ware Avenue, was built, as you may see, some hewn stone were 
laid in the front, which look modest enough now, but when 
those stones were being laid I passed by with one of the fathers 
of the city, and as he saw them, in very strong language he in- 
formed me that he was willing to pay for bread and meat (good 
bread and meat) for the poor, but he would not pay for pound 
cake. I look back to those days as if they were but yesterday. 


In January, 1840, while Mr. Steele was Superintendent of Pub- 
lic Schools in Buffalo, the Common School Educational Society 
for the County of Erie^ was formed, in the hopes of bringing 
the county towns to follow the example of the city in estab- 
lishing free public schools. I find among old papers a printed 
address which I delivered February 3, 1840, before that society, 
in the Methodist church, on Niagara Street, forty years ago. 
I take one item from that address. I should not like to read 
it all to you, or let you know how proud we felt that 
day of our schools. But this item, it seems, Mr. Steele had 
given me. Before the schools were made free,* about 1,400 
pupils were daily under instruction in public and private 
school-, at an expense to the city and to individuals of $19,094. 
Two years afterward the free schools were in operation, and 
about the same number of scholars in the public and private 
schools. The expense of education to the city and to individ- 
uals was §7,839 — less than half — and the instruction not in- 
ferior, for many of the best of the private teachers had gone 
into the public free schools. President Van Buren, in 1S39 or 
1840, looked in upon Buffalo, and he was taken to old No. 8 
by Mr. Steele and the City Government. No. 8 is the school- 
house with a colonnade, on Church Street, opposite the City 
Hall, and we were as proud of that school-house — with J. S. 
Brown, who had been teacher of a large private school, but now 
principal in that public school — as proud as anybody to-day is 
in showing the City Hall. 

It was, indeed, a great achievement for Mr. Steele, to put 
your school system in operation, and do it so well that it has 
gone on without much change, except growth, for more than 
forty years. He had good sense, and good nature, and ready 
tact to get along with people; he knew his limitations, and 
he was wise in getting the help he needed. Professor Davies, 
the eminent mathematician of West Point, and author of ex- 
cellent mathematical works, whose aid Mr. Steele sought in or- 
ganizing mathematical study, told me that Mr. Steele was a re- 


.markable man — without early opportunity of education, yet 
knowing how to do himself, or to get help from others, so as 
to be a most excellent Superintendent of schools, — one of the 
best he knew. 

Mr. Steele was Superintendent three years, but he always 
kept interested in education, saw to the establishment of the 
High School, and was a founder and patron of the State Nor- 
mal School in Buffalo, and one of the presiding officers of its 
Board of Directors,-— in all, able and faithful. 

Mr. Steele did a great amount of work in all these years. 
Besides his regular business, which he did not neglect — and 
all this thought, work and care for the schools, which alone 
was work enough for any man — he found time to do much for 
the Old Lyceum, which, in 1835, was changed into the Young 
Men's Association; and he was the moving spirit in the Me- 
chanics' and Apprentices' Society. He introduced me to this 
society in -1837, and I became acquainted with two young ap- 
prentices, afterward lawyers in Buffalo, and one of them, these 
many years, an able judge. Mr. Steele was also in the Fire 
Department, and in 1838-39 he was foreman of Company No. 
6; and in the time of the border disturbances, — the Patriot War, 
— his company took muskets and helped preserve the peace, and 
General Scott had no better force on which to lean in those 
troubled days. Mr. Steele's good nature and hopeful enthusi- 
asm gave him great power among young men. There was 
esprit du corps wherever he was, and it is worth while to look 
back and see how he used his power of doing good. He had 
strong religious instincts, and strengthened himself by early 
interest in religious thought and connection with the Unitarian 
Church; and in all these various ways, in the Lyceum and As- 
sociations, in the schools, and in the Sunday-school, of which 
he was for several years the Superintendent, he worked for the 
public welfare. 

In 183 1 and 1842, Mr. Steele was in the city government, 
and again, I think, in 1847; and here he had an opportunity to 

^iV^ »__«.»- 


work for the public schools, to which he had given so much of 
his life for the three years just before. 

Another important thing he did as Alderman: on a commit- 
tee upon sewerage, he urged the early beginning of certain 
main sewers which must come with the city's growth, and 
which, being early provided for, in fact begun, would save 
health, and save expense in the making. He carried his mea- 
sure, notwithstanding the expense; and in after years it has 
been seen how far-sighted it was, and that if more such fore- 
sight had been exercised, it would have been better touching 
both health and expense. 

Mr. Steele, notwithstanding the hard nakedness of his earlier 
life, had much enjoyment of beauty. He was one of the 
founders of the Buffalo Academy of Fine Arts, and at one 
time its President; interested he was, too, in the Society of 
Natural" History, which has a name far from home. 

In 1848, Mr. Steele became interested in the Buffalo Gas 
Light Company, and was its Secretary and Manager nearly 
thirty years. In 1852, he gave much attention to the establish- 
ment of the Buffalo Water Works. He was the first Secretary 
of the Company, and for several years he held that office, and 
for a time was President. 

Meantime, home-life has been moving on: Mr. Steele's fam- 
ily removed from the corner of Ellicott and Eagle streets to 
the corner of Michigan and Clinton streets, and from there to 
the pleasant home on Franklin Street. It was a joy to look 
into that home. Mr. and Mrs. Steele had taste and judgment, 
and their home was expressive of beauty and intelligence — 
handsomely, but not extravagantly furnished, with some fine 
pictures and statuary, and a library among the best private 
libraries in the city. They traveled in Europe, and brought 
home many articles of virtu that gave a finish of refinement 
to their house. In his library Mr. Steele was at home. He 
found time to read all through his life. Few men know their 
books better than he did. When in Europe, while his com- 

^..^B^l—— — "^^^^^^^^™^^^^^^^^^^— — *»~ ■ - ■ mniM . .« ~«-*tK , *H* «* -. »* . < . ;- «+* . *■<*- «** < nmn IMr irtHlt i lf i 


panions in travel were asleep, in morning hours, he wrote let- 
ters to friends at home. They were afterward printed, not 
published, and the modest book always suggested to me Dr. 
Franklin. It is pleasant to think of our old friend in the 
easier and genial activities of his later years, so deeply inter- 
ested, he and Mrs. Steele, in the charities of the city, and that 
Old Settlers' Association of which they were the very life; and 
for many years it was made not only to bring society into sym- 
pathetic friendliness and keep out the caste of wealth and 
fashion, but also to furnish two or three thousand dollars a 
year for city charities. Mr. Steele could bring people together 
— all sorts of people. His genial, hearty sympathies made 
him a center of fellowship. He never would have had strikes 
among his workmen if he had had a thousand. It would do 
the world good to see every one of the thirty, forty or fifty 
laborers at the gas works, every year, I think the first of Jan- 
uary, at his house, amidst the books, pictures and statues, 
feasted as if the sons of kings, and Mr. and Mrs. Steele so 
good-natured in the midst of them; and when they died, the 
gas men were among the chief mourners. I love to think of 
all this. 

Talfourd, Poet, Essayist and English Judge, died instantly. 
He was opening court to try criminals. The great number 
distressed him. He was charging the grand jurors, and was 
saying that there must be not only justice but sympathy to 
save English society, and -with sympathy on his lips he fell 
dead. O, how sympathy is wanted. 

And now, finally, and not to praise the dead, but for incen- 
tive and encouragement to the living, let us think of the be- 
ginning, progress and result of this long, active, useful life. 
Some one says every man should have a vocation and an avo- 
cation — an every-day employment for ordinary support, and 
spontaneous activities in the way of one's bent, taste and be- 
nevolent intention. Mr. Steele must have his vocation to get 
his bread — books must be bound and bought and sold; but his 


avocation swallowed up his vocation. Things that interested 
him, and that he would live for, became his employment and 
life work. Education, the public schools, first took hold of 
him. He knew how he had wanted what they could give, and 
so for the schools he was always ready to spend and be spent. 
Then he gave his attention to artificial light by gas, so that the 
hours for labor, study and enjoyment might be multiplied; and 
then he was interested in the bringing of pure water into the 
city, for the health and enjoyment of rich and poor. Fresh, 
pure water, in abundance, and good drainage for life and 
health; clear, full light, and not too expensive, to turn dark- 
ness into day; knowledge, books, education, schools for poor 
as well as rich; institutions for art, for charities, for religion, — 
to all these objects, with a wise enthusiasm, he gave money 
and his time and his heart. I should be ashamed to come 
here with fulsome flattery. I would say what history is bound 
to record; and, indeed, how much better is a life given to such 
objects, than so many lives that are frittered away or given to 
results against the general welfare. 

There is an instinctive longing in our hearts to live in the 
memory of men; but who, that thinks, would live to make 
others wretched ? How much better to live to give to poor 
and rich better education, fuller light, purer air and water, and 
open the eyes of all to truth, beauty and goodness! Happy 
they, in the evening hour of life, who can hope that what they 
have done will make life larger, richer, better, to those who 
shall come after them! 




To the Honorable the Legislature of the State of 
New-York in Senate and Assembly convened: 

The Directors of the Western and Northern Inland Lock Navi- 
gation Companies, 


That in the summer and fall, ensuing the incorporation of 
the subscribers to the said companies, surveys were made on 
the Western route, from Schenectady to Wood Creek, and on 
the Northern route, from the head of the tide water of Hud- 
son's river, to Fort Edward; thence to the Northern Wood 
Creek, and down the same, to its junction with Lake Champlain. 
The object of these surveys, was to ascertain, what improve- 
ment the internal navigation on each route was susceptible of, 
and which in particular, were the greatest obstructions to the 

*At page 159 of Volume I. and elsewhere within the present volume, reference is 
made to the >l Inland Lock Navigation Company." To make more complete the history of 
the changes from the earlier to the later and present modes of transportation through the 
State of New Vork, and suitably to introduce some papers concerning the origin of the Erie 
Canal, these official reports, made shortly after, and by subject and chronologically inclose 
connection with, Judge Vanderkemp's Journal (pages 33 to 116), are here reprinted 
with as little change, typographically, as possible. They arc from an old copy in the pos- 
session of the Buffalo Historical Society, bearing the following imprint: " New- Vork, 
Printed by GEORGE Fokman, No. 156, Front-Street. — 1796. — " 



water transportation, of the agricultural produce of the inte- 
rior of the state. The result was perfectly favorable, and fol- 
lowed by a determination on the part of the Western Com- 
pany, to begin its operations at the Falls in the Mohawk river, 
in Herkemer county, which created a portage, where all boats 
navigating the Mohawk river, with their cargoes, were trans- 
ported nearly one mile over land, an operation attended with 
unavoidable delay, and great expence, as well as with injury 
to the boats and their cargoes. The work was accordingly 
commenced in April 1793, with nearly three hundred labour- 
ers, besides a competent number of artificers, but its progress 
was arrested early in September, for want of funds, many of 
the stockholders having neglected to pay the requisition made 
by the Directors, either because they had not the means to 
supply such advances, or from an apprehension of the imprac- 
ticability of succeeding in the operation. — January, 1794, the 
work was however recommenced, although feebly, and some 
progress made, in hopes that the Legislature would afford aid, 
by grants, or loans of money, or by taking the unsubscribed 
shares. Accordingly, the Legislature, sensible of the propri- 
ety of relieving the stockholders, in one or either of these 
modes, and appreciating, with that discernment which has in- 
variably characterised the Legislature of this state, the advan- 
tages the community at large would derive, from the success 
of the important undertaking, which they had encouraged in- 
dividuals to attempt, directed a subscription on the part of the 
people of the state, of two hundred shares to each company; 
this measure was attended with the most salutary effects. The 
hopes and confidence of the companies were revived, and the 
works recommenced in May last, with a correspondent degree 
of alacrity; but the very high price of agricultural produce, 
creating a most extensive demand for labour, it was found im- 
possible to obtain such a number of workmen, as were requi- 
site to the finishing of the work, before the end of the sum- 
mer. — Hence it was the 17th of November, before the Canal 


and Locks were so far completed, as to afford a passage to 
boats. An account is herewith delivered, of the number of 
boats which passed to the 18th of December, when the frost 
rendered the navigation in the river no longer practicable: 
what remains still to be done at. that place, is trifling, and a 
full completion of all the work, will be effected by a small 
number of hands, employed for a few weeks, in the ensuing 

As a description of the country through which the Canal is 
carried, a detail of its formation, and delineation of the bene- 
ficial effects, which already are, and will hereafter be experi- 
enced from it, may not be uninteresting to the community, 
and in particular to the Legislature, whose deliberations have 
the interest of its constituents so constantly in view, we beg 
leave to exhibit the following Summary: 

The Canal is drawn through the Northern shore of the Mo- 
hawk river, about fifty-six miles beyond Schenectady. Its 
tract is nearly parallel to the direction of the waters of the 
fall, and at a mean about forty yards therefrom. Its supply of 
water is from the river, and the Canal commences above the 
falls, in a neat, well covered bason of considerable depth of 
water, and re-enters the river in a spacious bay at the foot of 
the falls; its length is 4752 feet, in which distance the aggre- 
gate fall is 44 feet 7 inches. Five locks having each nearly 9 
feet lift, are placed towards the lower end of the Canal, and 
the pits, in which they are placed, have been excavated out of 
solid rock, of the hardest kind; the chamber of each lock is 
an area of 74 feet by 12 feet in the cleave, and boats drawing 
three feet and an half of water may enter at all times; the 
depth of water in all the extent of the Canal beyond the locks 
is various, but not less that 3 feet in any place; near the upper 
end of the Canal a guard lock is placed without lift, to prevent 
a redundancy of water; when the water in the river rises be- 
yond the lowest state, sluices are constructed, to discharge the 
surplus water entering the Canal, from the two small rivulets 


which intersect its course; about 2550 feet of the Canal is cut 
through solid rock, and where the level struck above the nat- 
ural surface of the earth, or rather rock, strong and well con- 
structed walls are erected, supported by heavy embankments 
of earth, to confine the water and to keep the level, hence 
there is no other current in the Canal than an almost imper- 
ceptible one, when the summit lock is drawn; three handsome 
and substantial bridges are thrown over the Canal, at so many 
roads which have been intersected by the Canal. 

The following state of facts, will evince the beneficial influ- 
ence this important work has had, on the transportation of the 
produce of the country beyond the falls, and on that of the 
necessary supplies for the consumption of our useful hardy 
husbandmen in that quarter, employed in reducing a wilder- 
ness to smiling and fertile fields, promoting their own happi- 
ness, and the commerce and respectability of the state. 

The falls, previous to the improvements above stated, be- 
ing impassable, even for empty water craft, these with all 
their cargoes, were transported by land, over a road as rough, 
rocky and bad as the imagination can conceive, of necessity 
therefore, the boats were of such construction as might be 
transported on a wheel carriage, consequently of little burthen, 
seldom exceeding a ton and a half; each boat, was navigated 
by three men, and a voyage from fort Schuyler to Schenectady, 
a distance of 112 miles, and back to the former place, was 
made at a mean in nine days. Thus the transportation of a 
ton of produce, if no back freight offered, was equivalent to 
one man's wages for eighteen days; the Canal and locks can 
pass boats of 32 tons burthen and upwards, but impediments 
in the river, still to be removed, between Schenectady and 
the falls, and between the latter place and fort Schuyler, 
prevent the use of boats of more burthen than ten or eleven 
tons, each of these are navigated by five men, and make the 
same voyage in fourteen days, which if no back freight offers, 
is at the rate of seven days wages of one man for one ton; 


but until improvements shall be made in the river below, and 
above the falls, these boats when the water in the river is in 
the lowest state, which is usually from the middle of July to 
the close of September, can only convey about five or six tons 
in that period, then the transportation of a ton between the 
places aforesaid, is equal to the wages of one man for four- 
teen days, affording still an important saving. The whole 
time taken to pass the Canal and locks does not exceed three 
quarters of an hour; the same burthen transported as hereto- 
fore by land, caused a detention at the very least, of an entire 
day and often more; but the advantages above detailed will 
not be confined to the inhabitants residing in the country on 
both sides of the Mohawk, between the falls and fort Schuy- 
ler, but extended to those in the more western part of the 
state; when a Canal of little more than a mile and an half in 
length, through grounds unincumbered with rocks and chiefly 
cultivated, shall connect the waters of the Mohawk river with 
those of Wood Creek, and when that creek shall be improved, 
and some trifling obstructions removed in some few places, in 
the Onondaga and Seneca rivers, for then boats of ten tons 
burthen and more, may with facility be navigated to the most 
remote end of the Cayuga lake. The expence of these im- 
provements, and those requisite between Schenectady and the 
falls, has been estimated by that able engineer, Mr. William 
Weston, who has conducted the companies works in the last 
year, and who has made a critical examination of the whole 
line, which was the object of the act of incorporation, a re- 
port of his, with the estimates alluded to, and others to im- 
prove the navigation between Schenectady and the sloop navi- 
gation of Hudson's river, are herewith delivered, the aggregate 
of which, although amounting to a sum, probably beyond the 
ability of the company, until the most distant period in which 
by law the works are to be completed, is not only small, but 
perfectly trifling, when put in competition with the incalcu- 
lable advantages, to every part of the community, which must 


inevitably result from the completion of the work in all the 
extent of the state. 

The directors have already determined to form the Canal, 
between the Mohawk river and Wood Creek, at Fort Schuyler, 
and a proper person is sent to that place to receive proposals 
for furnishing the requisite materials, and proposals have actu- 
ally been offered for doing the excavating part of the work by 
contract, on which the directors will decide with all conven- 
ient speed, that the operation may commence early next spring; 
and they hope its completion in the month of November next, 
unless accidents, not at present foreseen, should intervene to 
retard its progress. 

It is seriously to be lamented, that many of the stockholders, 
are not in conditions to make advances in the present year, 
sufficiently extensive, both for the Canal at Fort Schuyler, and 
also to improve Wood Creek, or the rapids between Schenec- 
tady and Schoharie Creek. The directors will, however, think 
it incumbent on them, to borrow money for those purposes. — 
If it can be obtained by mortgaging the works already com- 
pleted. The loan of a sum, equal to half of what the Canal 
and locks at the falls have cost, would be amply sufficient for 
two of those objects, with such addition as it may be in the 
power of the stockholders to contribute. — The account here- 
with delivered marked A, will shew what that cost amount to, 
and another marked B, what boats have passed; but as they 
cannot stipulate reimbursements, sooner than at the expiration 
of five years, it is little probable that a loan can be made from 
individuals. Their only prospect of aid must therefore be a 
respectful reliance on the Legislature, which will undoubtedly 
appreciate the importance of speedily removing the obstruc- 
tions alluded to, either by a loan, or by an anticipation of the 
payments, on the shares in the stock held by the state. And 
as the estimate, for the removal of all the impediments to the 
navigation between Schenectady, and the carrying place at 
fort Schuyler, the Canal and locks at that place, the locks and 


other improvements in wood creek, and the obstructions in 
the Onondaga and Seneca rivers, as far as the southern ex- 
treme of the Cayuga lake, a distance of more than 260 miles, 
adding 10 per cent, on the aggregate for contingencies, amounts 
to j£. 73,540, the proportion- of this sum on the two hundred 
shares belonging to the state, will be only jC. 14,708. 

The Legislature will permit us respectfully to observe, that 
should assistance be afforded in either shape, the prospect of 
a speedy reduction of the price of transportation, would 
doubtless greatly enhance the value of the property of the 
people of this state, bordering on the western waters, and re- 
cently purchased from the natives, and still unsold. 

In the summer of 1793, the directors caused wood creek to 
be cleared of the timber which had fallen into it, in such 
quantity as almost altogether obstructed the navigation; and 
as the serpentine course of the creek greatly increased the 
distance, from its source to its mouth, beyond that of a straight 
line, thirteen Isthmus's were cut, which made a reduction in 
the distance of more than seven miles. Its banks are, how- 
ever, so thickly covered with trees of the largest size, and so 
many of those, either from decay, or by the force of winds, 
are annually thrown into the creek, that it will be indispensably 
necessary to clear the banks of the timber, for the distance of 
four rods at least, and contracts are proposed to be made for 
that purpose. The lands on the south side of the creek, from 
opposite Canada creek to the Oneida lake, appertain to the 
state; and we humbly suggest the propriety of vesting the 
lands, to the extent of the distance above mentioned, in the 
western company. Should this favor be conferred on the 
company, and extended to enable them to obtain the same 
quantity of land on the northern shore, by an exchange with 
the present proprietors, for an equal quantity, part of the 
small reservations on the Oneida lakes, purchased from the 
Oneidas; it is believed the proprietors would be willing to 
make the exchange. 


In the year 1793, the northern company commenced a Canal 
in the vicinity of Still Water, intending to extend it to Water- 
ford. This business, after considerable progress had been 
made, was also arrested, and for the reasons which prevented 
the prosecutions of the. works at the falls. A contract was 
made in that year, for constructing a Canal and locks, to open 
the navigation of the northern wood creek, with Lake Cham- 
plain, obstructed by the falls at Skeensborough. The excava- 
tion of the Canal through solid rock is nearly completed, and 
the locks will be constructed and finished in the present year, 
if contracts for furnishing the necessary numbers of bricks 
can be made, and which is now attempted to be done. 

In 1794, the northern wood creek was partially cleared of 
the timber which had fallen into it, and boats are now capable 
of passing from the falls of Skeensborough, to near fort Ann; 
and as the road between these two places is exceedingly bad 
and deep, very considerable advantage has resulted from the 

Mr. Weston has examined the direction of the Canal com- 
menced in 1793, near Still Water, and the intermediate grounds 
to Waterford — the river from Still Water to Fort Edward — the 
country thence to wood creek, and that creek to its junction 
with Lake Champlain, and has given it as his opinion, that in 
all this line, as in the western, the country is more favorable 
for works such as are contemplated, than any he know r s, or has 
ever been advised of — that the expence will be trifling, com- 
pared with any other of equal extent in any neighbouring state 
which he has visited; but for want of time he was not able to 
take surveys, on which correctly to form estimates of each 
particular improvements. 

Many of the settlers adjoining the waters on both routes, 
through which the improvements are intended, and by which 
the internal navigation, in its present imperfect state, is carried 
on, have very improvidently fallen the timber from the banks 
into those waters, to such an extent, as in many places renders 


it difficult to obtain a passage. This evil cannot be effectu- 
ally remedied without further Legislative provision in the 
premises; and the directors of both companies respectfully 
intreat the Legislature to afford it. 

The valuation of the grounds (through which it has been, 
and shall hereafter be necessary to draw Canals) in the man- 
ner directed by the act of incorporation, has caused serious 
embarrassment, as well to individuals, whose property is in- 
jured by the works, as to the company. — An alteration in this 
respect is humbly entreated, and the directors beg leave re- 
spectfully to suggest, the propriety of enabling the Supreme 
and Circuit Courts to appoint apprisers, whose decision shall 
be conclusive, under the sanction of an oath, impartially to 
estimate the damages, or such other mode as the wisdom of 
the Legislature shall devise. 

The several accounts herewith exhibited will shew the 
monies which have been received by the directors, and how 
the same has been expended. 

The arrestation of the work in 1793 — the extravagant in- 
creases in the price of labour and materials — the want of 
experience in persons of every description, employed in works 
perfectly novel in this country, with the exception of the engi- 
neer in the last year, has greatly enhanced the expence, but 
which we trust will in future be avoided, as experience has 
enabled the directors to systamise their operations, and to in- 
troduce as much economy in the several requisite arrange- 
ments, as a business of this nature is susceptible of — and the 
directors have reason to believe, from the detailed manner in 
which the engineer has formed his estimates, that the future 
expence will be confined to the aggregate amount of those 
estimates. The directors will not, however, be deterred from 
prosecuting the works, committed to the companies respec- 
tively, with as much celerity as their funds will permit, per- 
suaded, that great and important advantages will result to the 


community, however small the retribution may be to the sub- 
scribers, at least for some years to come. 

All which is most respectfully sub??iitted, 

By Order of the Directors of both Companies. 

. PH. SCHUYLER, President. 


From the 17th of November, 1795, to the 18th of December following, 
eight large boats, and one hundred and two small boats, passed the little 
falls on the Mohawk, and paid a toll in the aggregate of £. So 10, exclu- 
sive of that on nine boats which passed gratis, on the day when the locks 
were opened. The season being so far advanced, only a small proportion of 
boats were navigated on the river in this month, compared with that usually 
employed in the navigating season. 



Of Mr. WESTON, to the Directors of the Western 
and Northern Inland Lock Navigation Companies. 

Agreeable to your instructions of the 16th May, requesting 
me to examine such works as had been already executed, and 
such as remained to be done by the two companies, incorpor- 
ated for the improvement of Inland Navigation in the state of 
New-York, and to form such plans and estimates as might en- 
able the directors, to form an idea of the sums that would be 
requisite to carry the contemplated works into effect, I pro- 
ceeded to an examination of the state of the works at the 
Little Falls, which being a primary object with the directors, 
caused me to hasten them, without paying more than a tran- 
sient attention to the intermediate navigation of that place 
and Schenectady. 

, A desire of availing myself of the extensive information 
and local knowledge possessed by General Schuyler, of the 
internal navigation of this state, induced me to accompany 
that gentleman, to the utmost extent of the limits prescribed 
by the Legislature, as the boundaries of the Western Inland 
Lock Navigation. Though this examination was performed 
first in point of time, yet I shall defer making any observa- 
tions at present, deeming it more eligible to lay before the 
board, a regular and connected account, from the eastern ex- 
tremity, at Hudson's river, to the western termination at Lake 

The reason before-mentioned, having prevented a particular 
examination of the Mohawk, on my ascending it from Schen- 
ectady to the Little Falls; and the necessity that was perceived 
on my return from the westward, of personally inspecting and 
hastening the completion of the works, at the last mentioned 
place, unavoidably postponed my re-examination to such an 
advanced period, as rendered it impracticable (from the height 

■ -"-'— ^^— -■■ 

• 1 6 8 /7i?5 T REP OR T OF THE 

of the water) to form an accurate judgment of the necessary 
improvements; and consequently of the attendant expence, 
previous to a description of the present state of the navigation 
of the Mohawk; and the means of connecting it with the 
waters which disembogue to the westward, in lake Ontario. It 
will be proper to premise, that the estimates are formed with a 
reference to existing circumstances; an increase or diminution 
in the value of labour will therefore necessarily produce a pro- 
portionable variation in the amount. Keeping this in view, I 
trust the estimates will be found to approximate as near the 
truth, as the uncertainty, incident to works of this nature will 
admit. In such parts where the quantities can be ascertained 
by calculation, the allotted sums will be found as accurate as 
estimation will allow; but where, from particular circumstances, 
sufficient data cannot be obtained, much must depend on con- 
jecture: Analogy on experience in similar situations, can 
alone enable us to form any tolerable idea of the time and cost 
of execution: always taking into consideration the difference 
occasioned by dissimilarity of place and circumstance. In 
every instance I have wished rather to exceed than to fall short 
in the aggregate amount: In some places too much may have 
been appropriated, and in others probably not sufficient; but 
the excess of one, by counter-balancing the deficiency of the 
other, will produce a mean, differing but little from the speci- 
fied total; provided skill and economy are united in the exe- 
cution; it being always to be understood that I proceed on the 
supposition, that the different works are all performed by con- 
tract. Having premised so much, I shall commence the sur- 
vey at the Cohoes, proceeding westwardly. 

The navigation of the Mohawk near its junction with the 
north river, is interrupted by a large fall, known by the name 
of Cohoes, which descends perpendicularly, upwards of seventy 
feet. This impediment has occasioned the navigation to ter- 
minate at Schenectady. The intercourse between that town 
and Albany, being carried on by waggons — the amount of the 


produce annually conveyed — the badness of the roads at par- 
ticular seasons, and the great expencc of land carriage, have 
long since rendered it an object of importance to connect 
these two places by a lock navigation. The most apparent 
route, and the easiest to be executed, is doubtless by following 
the Mohawk in its course eastward to the Cohoes, and then by 
a Canal from the level of the river above Lansing's mill, to 
form a communication with the Hudson. There are two 
routes, one of which on the western shore of the Mohawk, 
commences at Lansing's mill, and terminates opposite to Troy; 
the other on the eastern side, forms a junction with the Hud- 
son, at Waterford. To enable the board to decide on the 
most eligible line, I have surveyed both the plans and sections 
herewith exhibited, each respectively, will explain the situation 
and elevation of the ground, much better than can be conveyed 
by words; a comparative estimate is subjoined, shewing the 
difference of expence that will attend on the execution. That 
the board may form a just conception of the merits of the two 
lines, it will be proper to observe, that the first mentioned one, 
though nearly two miles longer, delivers the boats into sloop 
navigation at Troy: whereas the eastern Canal, by entering the 
Hudson at Waterford, obliges the boats to descend that river 
to the same point, before their cargoes can be shipped 6n 
board the trading vessels; unless this difficulty should be 
obviated, by an improvement in the north river, so as to 
render it navigable for vessels of burthen to Waterford. 
From what has been said, the board will be competent to de- 
cide which line will best promote, the interest of the stock- 
holders individually, and the community at large. 

The estimates, when the distance alone is taken into view, 
will appear very great; but when it is understood, that the 
lockage is upward of one hundred and forty feet, and that the 
quality of the ground, through which the Canal must be 
unavoidably connected, is chiefly a slaty rock, removeable in a 
great degree only by means of powder; when the price of that 


article — the high value of labour, and the little progress that 
can be made in such a material, are also considered, the 
amount will no longer appear surprising. Though the sum 
affixed is adequate to the removal of a cubic yard of rock, is 
much less than has been recently given for the excavation of 
a road at the east end of the Cohoes bridge; yet I have rea- 
son to believe, that by working to the best advantage, the cost 
will not exceed what I have allowed as competent to the per- 
formance. The consumption of powder will unavoidably be 
great; the exact quantity is not easily to be ascertained. I 
have calculated the expenditure in proportion to that con- 
sumed at the road before-mentioned. The price has been 
fixed at a medium between the present and usual value. On 
account of the depth of cutting, I have contracted the width 
of the Canal in various places, the slopes forming an angle of 
45 degrees with the horizon. The towing path is also dimin- 
ished six feet — the benches are as one to two, or three feet 
horizontal, to six feet perpendicular. The above dimensions 
admit the passage of one boat only at a time; but as the dis- 
tance will not in any instance be great, no inconvenience will' 
result from the measure; especially as meeting places may be 
formed in the valleys on the western line, without additional 
cxpence, and the cost of making them on the eastern line, will 
be an object of small importance. Some saving may be made 
in the execution, by dispensing with the towing path, and con- 
tracting the benches; but as these are intended for permanent 
works, I do not recommend the adoption of this measure. It 
is usual in Europe to tunnle or to form a subterraneous pas- 
sage, where the depth of cutting exceeds twenty-five or thirty 
feet. — Independent of the accidents these works are subject 
to (and which are by no means uncommon) the increased 
value of mechanical labor in this country, would render this 
mode nearly, if not quite as expensive as open cutting; which 
induced me to prefer the last mentioned method. The Canal 
in common cutting, is proposed to be twenty-sixf eet wide at 


the bottom, and thirty-five feet at the surface of the water 
(which is three feet in depth) the towing path elevated eight- 
een inches above it, and twelve feet in width: These dimen- 
sions are adapted to the size of the locks, as fixed by the Leg- 
islature, in the supplementary act of incorporation. The 
locks are proposed to be constructed in the best manner, with 
sound, hard burnt bricks; the hollow quoins, and coping, of 
stone — the chamber capable of receiving a boat seventy feet 
in length, and twelve feet in width. 

At the time the above survey was performed, the water was 
so high in the Mohawk, as to render a regular examination 
from the Cohoes to Schenectady, useless; but from a cursory 
view of the river for six miles above Lansing's mill, and from 
the information obtained from persons acquainted with the 
remaining part, it appears that the navigation in general is 
tolerably good, excepting in three or four places, where short 
Canals and locks would be necessary; the worst rapid is at 
Vanderbegh's, six miles from Lansing's mill. The most effect- 
ual mode of improvement, will be to cut a short Canal from 
the upper to the lower end of the fall, on the north-eastern 
shore — the ground is flat, and apparently free from rocks; the 
length will not exceed five hundred yards, and one lock will 
suffice for the ascent of boats. A small, low dam from each 
bank to an island in the middle of the river, would save some 
digging, and afford an extention and increase of water in the 
pond above. From hence to Schenectady, there are two more 
rapids, where it would be necessary to pursue the same plan. 
From the upper fall to Schenectady, a distance of four miles, 
the navigation is good — from this place to Schoharry creek 
(upwards of twenty miles) there are a continued series of 
falls, of greater or less extent; the number and situation of 
these, are accurately detailed by General Schuyler, in his 
printed report, of 1792; to which I refer the board for further 
particulars. Judgment and caution must be exerted in the 
improvement of these rapids; as though inconvenient in them- 


selves, they are beneficial in their consequences; rendering 
the intermediate navigation more perfect, by preventing a too 
quick discharge of water in a dry season, thereby making a 
partial navigation, when otherwise there would be none. An 
opening sufficient to permit a boat to pass through with 
facility; and a small low dam, with an oblique wing wall, to 
collect a greater quantity of water in the channel and pond 
above, is the least expensive mode of execution. It is evi- 
dent, that this increase of depth obtained by a contraction of 
the natural chanel of the river, will occasion a proportionate 
increase of velocity, and a consequent obstruction to the 
ascending boats: To remedy this inconvenience, it will be 
always prudent to have the opening near the shore, that the 
boats may avail themselves of the assistance of a towing path, 
to facilitate their ascent — when there is a sufficient depth of 
water above and below the rapid, and the bed of the river is 
not a solid rock, the remedy is very easily effected. These 
instances occur very frequently between the little falls and 
fort Schuyler, as will be more particularly mentioned here- 
after. The state of the river to Schoharry creek, is such as to 
induce me to advise only a partial and temporary improve- 
ment, as I am persuaded that in a very few years, a natural 
and certain increase of trade will demand an attention, which 
its consequences will doubtless obtain, and that then a Canal 
on the southern bank of the river, to which purpose it is ad- 
mirably adapted, from Schoharry to Schenectady, will be 
deemed absolutely necessary. The distance from Schoharry 
creek to the little falls, is thirty-six miles, and though there 
are several rapids, yet improvements will be neither difficult 
nor expensive. The particular manner of execution, can only 
be pointed out on the spot, after a minute inspection of each 
respective rapid. 

Passing through the Canal at the little falls, the river con- 
tinues navigable near five miles, to Orendorff's rift: But pre- 
vious to a further description, it may be proper to point out 


what further steps are necessary to be pursued the ensuing 
year, to complete the works at the first mentioned places. — 
The great desire expressed by the board, to have the Canal 
opened this year, made it necessary to finish partially the 
different works, in order to effect the desired purpose. The 
embankments were therefore left in an unfinished state. 
From the settling incident to them, and equality of the soil, 
of which they are composed (and which was unavoidably 
used) it will be necessary early in the ensuing spring, to 
employ one or two boats to raise such parts as shall require it, 
and to continue strengthening the banks, until it has obtained 
a proper form. I have given Mr. Usher instructions to attend 
to this part of the work, at the commencement of the thaw, 
in the spring; and I have no doubt he will take every neces- 
sary precaution for its stability. 

Recommencing the survey, we ascend in good water Oren- 
dorff's rift, a very strong rapid; the river being contracted 
into a narrow, deep channel; half a mile above this is the 
wolf rift, a wide and shallow rapid, continuing the same to 
fort Herkemer — the best manner of improving this part, will 
be to cut a Canal from fort Herkemer, to the deep water, be- 
low Orendorff's rift — the ground is very favorable, being free 
from rock, and with a regular and gentle descent — the length 
will be ninety-two chains; and the fall of the lock at the east 
end ten feet, supposing the fall of the upper gate level with 
the surface of the water above the Wolf rift. To obtain the 
requisite depth of water in the Canal, I propose to throw a 
dam across the river, to raise it three feet — this will save that 
depth of extra digging, the whole length of the Canal, and 
will also improve the navigation of the two small rapids, above 
Aldridges. The dam, guard, and river locks may be built with 
stone, to be obtained on the south side of the Mohawk, at the 
little falls — the land carriage will not exceed one mile; and it 
may then be conveyed in boats to the destined spot — the 
quality is well adapted for these or any other works, where 


strength and duration are required — the stones rising in 
lamina, of different thickness — the beds perfectly parallel, 
and the dimensions as large as may be required: The expence 
attendant on this part, will be found detailed in the estimate, 
annexed hereto. — The distance from Aldridges, to fort Schuy- 
ler, is nearly fifty miles — the navigation, with few exceptions, 
exceeding good. The river from Posts upwards, is much im- 
peded with trees, which render the passage both difficult and 
dangerous; in some places accumulated to such a degree, as 
almost to choak up the whole channel — the removal of these 
should be an object of the first attention; but the labour will 
be fruitless, if a supplementary clause to the act of incorpora- 
tion, is not obtained; affixing such penalties as may effectually 
deter the commission of acts, producing these consequences. 
As the few rapids in the last mentioned district, have generally 
deep waters, above and below, and the bottom is either sand 
or gravel, they will be made navigable at a small expence. 
From the Mohawk, at fort Schuyler, to wood creek, there is a 
carrying place of one mile. In the spring there is generally 
a sufficiency of water to enable the batteaus to descend with 
their cargoes on board; but in summer season, it is necessary 
to convey the lading four miles further by land, to Canada 
creek; and then there is some difficulty to float the empty boat 
down, though aided by a flush of water, collected in the mill 
dam, during the preceding night. The ground between the 
two landing places, is remarkably favorable for the Canal; as 
the plan and profile herewith exhibited will clearly explain. 
The surface of the water in the Mohawk, at the upper landing, 
is sixteen inches higher than that of wood creek, where fort 
Newport formerly stood. But the navigation from Colbraith's 
upwards, is very bad, susceptible of improvement only by 
means of a dam. I have deemed it preferable to conduct the 
Canal. about one hundred yards below White's landing, into 
good water. The length of the Canal will be one mile, five 
furlongs, and two chains; and the lift of the lock eight feet; 


that being the difference of the elevation between the two 
points above-mentioned. The soil through which the Canal is 
carried, being chiefly sand, with a small proportion of gravel, 
and wholly free from rock, will make the expence of cutting 
comparatively small. The locks and abutments of the 
bridges, are proposed to be built with brick. — For the amount 
and particulars of expence, I refer to the subjoined estimate. 
It is to be observed, that I suppose the waters of wood creek, 
aided by those of a small rivulet, running at the foot of the 
rising ground, on which fort Schuyler stands (and which may 
easily be conducted into the summit level) will be adequate to 
the supply of a lock navigation. But should the increase of 
trade, at a future period, require further resources, they can 
be obtained by means of a dam thrown across the Mohawk, at 
the lower landing, so as to raise the waters therein level with 
those of the Canal, which may be effected at an expence not 
exceeding one thousand pounds, and without causing any 
alteration in the rest of the works. Wood creek, from fort 
Newport to its junction with Canada creek, is circuitous in its 
course, and the channel to fort Bull, in general, very narrow: 
the fall to this last mentioned place, is fourteen feet and a 
half, and the length near four miles — the fall from thence to 
Canada creek, is eighteen feet six inches, and the length three 
miles, one furlong, and six chains. The above fall I have 
divided into six locks; the ground not admitting of more than 
five or six feet lifts. This part of the creek at present, is 
tolerably free from trees; but unless the banks on each side 
are cleared twelve or fifteen yards in width, it will not long 
remain so — this is so necessary an operation, that it should be 
immediately carried into execution, from fort Newport to the 
Oneida lake. From Canada creek, to the royal blockhouse (a 
computed distance of twenty miles) the channel is much im- 
peded by trees, which lying across the direction of the stream, 
collect banks of sand, which choak up the passage, and by 
directing the current obliquely against the banks, undermine 


them, and add fresh obstacles to those before accumulated. — 
The course of the creek is naturally circuitous — the improve- 
ments made by Mr. Richardson, have been very beneficial; 
but much yet remains to be done in the same way, which when 
effected, will considerably shorten the distance. This opera- 
tion, and the removal of the trees and banks of sand, by pro- 
moting a quicker discharge of water, will produce a decrease 
in the depths thereof, making it necessary to construct locks 
and dams, which will then render the navigation of wood 
creek complete. The number and situation of these works, 
cannot be ascertained, until a regular survey has been made, 
which cannot be done conveniently, except in the winter season. 

From the royal blockhouse, to the outlet of the Oneida lake, 
at fort Brewerton, is 24 miles, below which is Coquatanoy rift, 
about three hundred yards in length; the chief impediment is 
occasioned by an old Indian eel wear — a wing wall to confine 
the channel into a narrow compass; removing the loose stones 
in the bed of the river, and making a towing path on the adja- 
cent shore, will suffice to render this plan navigable. From 
the outlet of the Oneida lake to the junction of the Seneca, 
with the Onondago river, at three river point (18 miles) the 
navigation is perfect, with a current scarcely perceptible. Pro- 
ceeding up the Seneca river, to the south end of the Cayuga 
lake, we have a navigation (with one or two exceptions, not 
worth mentioning) as complete as art or nature could render it. 

Indeed the Seneca, instead of being deemed a river, may, 
with great propriety, be considered as an extension of the 
Cayuga lake; the channel being wide and deep, with an im- 
perceptible current — in short, from the east end of the Oneida, 
to the south end of the Cayuga lake, a perfect navigation ex- 
tending upwards, of one hundred and twenty miles, in a direct 
course, may be obtained at an expence, not exceeding two 
thousand pounds — as will be detailed in the annexed esti- 
mates — The Cayuga, at the north end, receives the Seneca 
river, distant from the lake of that name, sixteen miles — 


ascending that river three miles, we come to the falls, where 
there is a carrying place, three quarters of a mile in length. 
Whenever the western company require this obstacle to be re- 
moved, a Canal may be conducted on the north side, from the 
upper to the lower landing — the length will be six furlongs, 
five chains; and the fall twenty-seven feet. Proceeding further 
up the river, we arrive at the little Scawyau — the current is 
rapid, but sufficiently deep — the removal of an eel wear, and 
the formation of a towing path, will make the ascent neither 
difficult nor tedious. From the little to the great Scawyau, 
the river is deep, and the' current moderate. At this place a 
Canal is practicable on either side — the length will be six fur- 
longs, nine inches; and the fall, fifteen feet, ten inches — from 
hence the river continues good to the outlet of the lake. It may 
be proper to observe, that whenever these Canals are carried into 
execution, great part of the sums expended in their completion, 
may be reimbursed by the disposal of mill-seats, which are very 
scarce (and consequently valuable) in this part of the country. 
Returning to three river point, we proceed down the Onon- 
dago river to Oswego falls (12 miles) in this district, are three 
rapids, two of which only are of consequence. At Oswego 
falls, is a short carrying place, but the boats are delivered into 
very rapid water, extremely difficult of ascent — a Canal may 
be carried through rocky ground on the south side — the length 
will be sixty-two chains, and fall eighteen feet — From hence 
to Oswego, where the Onondago river disembogues itself into 
Ontario, is a continued rapid for twelve miles. The adjacent 
shores being very steep and rocky, preclude every idea of 
conducting a Canal along the bank; as the only remedy, re- 
course must be had to dams and locks. — Averse as I am to 
this mode, yet necessity compels us (however reluctantly) to 
adopt it. The bed of the river being a solid rock, is a circum- 
stance that will undoubtedly contribute much to the stability 
of the works; and suitable timber abounding on the adjacent 
shores, will diminish the cost of erection. 



The number of these dams, and the quantity of lockage, 
cannot be ascertained, until a regular survey has been made; 
but previous to this, or the expenditure of any money, below 
three river point, it will be adviseable to examine, attentively, 
every other line of communication with lake Ontario, that has 
the least appearance of practicability. For this purpose, I 
shall suggest to the board, the propriety of exploring the inter- 
mediate country, between Rotterdam and Salmon creek. — 
From information obtained at Rotterdam, I understand that 
the distance from Oneida lake, to the navigable waters of Sal- 
mon Creek, does not exceed sixteen miles — that the ground is 
favorable, being free from rock, and that the sources of Sal- 
mon Creek, and the rivulet which enters the Oneida lake, at 
Rotterdam, rise near each other, and may in all probability, be 
conducted into the summit level. — If these conjectures should 
be verified by a regular survey; and if the springs that can 
be obtained, are found adequate to the supply of a lock navi- 
gation, I shall certainly recommend this rout as most prefer- 
able, not only on account of its stability, but also for being 
near thirty miles shorter than the Onondngo river. The ex- 
pence of execution would probably be greater in the first 
instance; but I am persuaded, would eventually be found 
cheaper from its permanency. — Arrived at lake Ontario, it is 
almost superfluous to remark (what is so obvious to every per- 
son, the least acquainted with the geography of the state) on 
the immense expanse of internal navigation, that opens upon 
our view — the extent" of these lakes (with one obstruction 
only, that doubtless will be surmounted in a few years) pre- 
sents to the mind — a scene unequalled in any other part of the 
globe; offering to the enterprising and adventurous, sources 
of trade, rapidly advancing to an incalculable amount, ensur- 
ing a certain recompence to the individuals, who promote, and 
the state, that patronises their important undertakings. 

ALBANY, December 23, 1795. 



Of the expense of improving the internal navigation, from the 
tide water of Hudson river, to the Cayuga lake, by means of 
Canals, locks, and removing the obstructions in the rivers, so as 
to render them competent for the transportation of produce in 
boats of twenty tons, and upwards — drawn from the estimates, 
made in detail, by William Weston, Esq. Engineer, after act- 
ual survey. 

To connect the waters of the Mohawk river, with the Hud- 
son, by a Canal, and locks from above the Cohoes falls. An 
option of the two following routs is offered; to wit: 

From Lansing's mills, above the said falls, by a Canal of 4 
miles and 54 chains in length, on the west side of the Mohawk 
river, to the sloop navigation, opposite to the town of Troy. — 
Six miles north of the city of Albany. £. s d 

Estimated expence, - - . - - 102,268 4 6 


From the said mills, by a rout on the east side of the Mo- 
hawk river, to enter Hudson river, at Waterford, 4 miles above 
Troy — a distance of two miles, and fifty-one chains. 
Estimated expence, - 105,240 13 7 

For the Canals, locks, towing paths, and other requisite im- 
provements, in the Mohawk river, from Lansing's mill, to the 
town of Schenectady — distance, about 12 miles. — Estimated 
expence, _..._. 15,247 o o 

For like improvements, from Schenectady to the mouth of 
Schohary creek — distance, 22 miles. — Estimated expence, - 15,000 o o 

For ditto — from Schohary creek, to the foot of the falls, in 
the Mohawk river, in Herkemer county — distance, 36 miles. — 
Estimated expence, - - - - - 4.924 o o 

The works at the falls are completed, and boats pass the 
Canal and locks. 

For like improvements, from the head of the said falls, to 
the portage, at fort Schuyler, between the Mohawk river, and 
wood creek — distance, 56 miles. — Estimated expence, - 8,914 15 6 


For a Canal, locks, and towing path, across the said portage £. s. d. 
— distance, i mile, and 52 chains. — Estimated expence, - 12,266 S 3 

From the west end of the said Canal, for like improvements, 
down wood creek, to render it a complete Canal navigation, to 
its junction, with the Oneida lake — distance, 30 miles. — Esti- 
mated expence, - - - - - - 28,787 o o 

From the east end of the Oneida lake, to the out-let of the 
Cayuga lake, little is to be done — the distance is 101 miles, 
and the estimated expence is. 2,090 o o 

From the said out-let, to the western extreme of Cayuga 
lake, is about 40 miles: hence the total distance, if taken from 
Hudson river, at Troy, is 302 miles, and the aggregate of the 
estimate for the whole, is, - - - - 189,497 S_3 

Or, if taken from Waterford, the distance is 299 miles, and 
the aggregate of the estimate is, - - - 192,769 17 4 

The produce of the western country, conveyed by water car- 
riage, is landed at Schenectady; from whence to Albany, there 
is a land carriage of 17 miles. Hence, if the Canals and locks 
between Schenectady and the Hudson river, are not constructed, 
the estimated expence for all the requisite improvements, from 
that town to the western extreme of the Cayuga lake, will be 
only - 72,982 3 9 

And the distance about 28 5 miles. 

To every of the estimates, ten per cent, has been added for contingencies. 






In the history of the world, we know but little of the ser- 
vices which have been done to humanity and civilization by 
some of the most active agents in their cause. The great names 
identified with the discovery of principles — with the winning 
of great contests — with all the various means through which 
man helps his fellows and advances the progress of his age — 
these are known and deservedly retain their place in the mem- 
ory of man, to the latest ages. But the man who has, in his 
own sphere, and within a limited locality, exerted as direct an 
influence upon his fellow men, and whose name has, during his 
own day, been in the mouths of his immediate neighbors, a 
household word, as \\%11 recognized as those of the rulers of 
the land, and whose services and influence are equally conceded 
by those who have been brought within their scope, — such a 
man is remembered only by those who knew him, or who have 
experienced the immediate benefit of his labors. In another 
generation his name is all that is known, and later, even that 
soon ceases to be recognized, except as one of a catalogue 
which has escaped destruction, but which awakens no respon- 
sive idea in the breast of him who recites its records. 


Still, the names of such men must have their place in the 
history of a country, if that history is to be made complete. 
In the law of change which characterizes the progress of a 
community or a nation, an idea of that progress is to be realiz- 
ed most fully by a comparison of the visible present with the 
pictures of the past, which reminiscences of their chief actors 
most vividly bring out. We are all deeply interested in the 
workings of a social system whose habits of thought have in 
part passed away; and one of the chief objects of our Histori- 
cal Society I conceive to be the preservation or the recovery 
of details which the dignity of History disregards in the days 
immediately after their occurrence, but which the lapse of 
time mellows into precious value. 

In this view, the Society has a right to all that I can remem- 
ber respecting my great-uncie, Joseph Ellicott. But I must 
caution those who expect a valuable memoir — if there be any 
such — that this is written where I have had no access to any 
documents whatever. I have been obliged to trust entirely to 
memory, and have, therefore, endeavored to speak most at large 
upon subjects where Mr. Ellicott's life was brought immedi- 
ately into contact with this city. This naturally gives the 
sketch an unequal and unsymmetrical appearance to a general 
reader, as it merely glances at the more important acts of his 
life, and gives most fully in detail matters of comparative in- 
significance to any but a resident of Buffalo. No apology, 
however, on that account, can be due to this Society, as I pre- 
sume that the details of Mr. Ellicott's relations with this city 
are what they most desire to have recorded. 

Joseph Ellicott was born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, on 
the first day of November, 1760. His father, Joseph Ellicott, 
was a farmer, and once held the office of Sheriff under the 
Crown. Having inherited a small sum in England, he made a 
voyage to that country and received the legacy, with which he 
purchased property in Maryland, and built the mills which gave 
to his place the name, which it still retains, of Ellicott's Mills. 


The family were of the Society of Friends, and a portion of 
even the present generation still adhere to that denomination. 
Their peaceful profession, however, did not prevent a number 
of the family from enlisting in the Continental Army during 
the Revolution. They professed a regret, after the war was 
wer, for a course so contrary to the tenets of their Society, and 
were received again into full membership. As to the sincerity 
of their repentance I have only the word of my grandmother, — 
Mrs. Rachel Evans, a sister of the subject of this article, — but 
from the old lady's exhibition of no particular horror at their 
defection, and the subject being one which she rather enjoyed 
discussing, I have always had my doubts; as she herself re- 
mained, until her death, a zealous member of the Society of 
Friends, and would have been as likely as any one to have con- 
demned any participation in war, had not other feelings more 
than counteracted her attachment to the rules of her denomi- 

I have not been able to ascertain in what services of the 
Revolution any of the family participated, and in this, as in 
almost the whole of this sketch, can only repeat detached por- 
tions of information obtained in desultory conversations. 

I have mentioned that Joseph Ellicott, the father of Joseph 
Ellicott of whom we are speaking, visited England. This was 
before the Revolution. An example of his mechanical tastes, 
many now present have seen, viz: the astronomical and musi- 
cal clock, which he had constructed in England after drawings 
made by himself. This clock was possessed by his eldest son 
Andrew Ellicott, and remained at Batavia until about five 
years since, when it was brought here and thoroughly repaired, 
and is still an accurate time-keeper. You may remember it 
at Mr. Fred. C. Clark's for some weeks, and afterward at Mr. 
Rogers' house, from which it was sent to Albany. I have 
thought it not unworthy of mention, as it has been de- 
scribed by several travelers through this section of the country 
at the beginning of this century, and illustrates a taste for 


mathematical mechanics shared by a large portion of the family. 
It contains an orrery with the motions of all the planets then 
known, — Uranus and the Asteroids not having yet been dis- 
covered, — and it also plays twenty-four tunes, being the favorite 
airs in vogue a century ago. 

I have named Andrew Ellicott, the elder brother of Joseph. 
He was a man of unusual mathematical acquirements for this 
country at that period, and died at West Point in 1820, where 
he was Professor of Mathematics. He is favorably mentioned 
by Humboldt, and I believe corresponded with some of the 
prominent savans of Europe. He was the first to note the 
shower of meteors on the night of the thirteenth and fourteenth 
of November, 1799, which led Humboldt to think, from the 
same phenomenon being reproduced on the same day of the 
month, in 1833, that we might have it repeated in 1867. 

Joseph Ellicott's father was left in straightened circumstances 
at the close of the Revolution, from the depreciation of the 
Continental money; and the education which his children ac- 
quired was chiefly the result of their own exertions. Joseph 
Ellicott himself had no other education furnished him than that 
which he could acquire at a common public school. He assisted 
his father upon his farm, and also occasionally in his mill. He 
was always fond of speaking of this period of his life as the 
happiest. There is no doubt that he needed active exercise to 
a greater extent than most men, and that a sedentary life was 
the chief cause of that melancholy which unsettled his mind, 
and finally led to his death. At this period he enjoyed the most 
vigorous health, and all the associations of it were pleasing. 

His instruction, I have said, was obtained at a common 
school. But the nature of his subsequent employments ren- 
dered a knowledge of books essential to his success in life, and 
he devoted a great deal of his time to the acquisition of knowl- 
edge. But his mind was essentially practical, and he never 
became a slave to the authority of any name, however dis- 
tinguished in the field of letters. His reading was extensive, 


but it was thoroughly digested, and became a part of his own 
intellect, which was unusually independent. 

In addition to the care and superintendence of the farm and 
the mill, he often occupied himself in surveying. In this em- 
ployment he became unusually expert, and was often taken by 
his brother Andrew — Surveyor-General — as his assistant. 

In 1789, he accompanied Andrew in his journey to the West, 
in order to settle the boundary line between New York and 
Pennsylvania. Probably some are not familiar with the cir- 
cumstance that regulates this boundary. It is determined by 
the meridian passing through the western extremity of Lake 
Ontario. In order, therefore, to settle the line, it was necessary 
to proceed to Canada. But, on arriving at Niagara, they were 
refused admittance, and even denied food. This was owing 
to the fact that no information had been received of the pro- 
posed survey. 

A letter had, however, been sent some time previously by 
President Washington to Lord Dorchester, the Governor of 
Canada, requesting permission for the exploring party to run 
their line from the western extremity of Lake Ontario to 
Lake Erie. Perhaps some one present can state whether Lord 
Dorchester did not receive the letter in time to give the neces- 
sary orders before the arrival of the surveying party. It is cer- 
tain that no orders had been received, and they were obliged 
to withdraw from Canada and return homeward. Fortunately, 
however, they were overtaken by an express messenger, near 
the Genesee river, conveying to them the necessary permission, 
and giving orders to furnish them with all the facilities for car- 
rying out their plan. They were also furnished with a guard, 
by order of the British officers, and were enabled to finish 
their survey, with the notes of which they returned to Phila- 

Joseph Ellicott was afterward engaged in laying out the City 
of Washington, preparatory to its becoming the seat of govern- 


Residents of Buffalo will notice a similarity of plan between 
their city and Washington. Mr. Ellicott proposed to take up 
his residence here upon lot No. 104 — opposite the churches — 
and he meant it to be central like the Capitol at Washington. 
The misunderstanding between him and the Commissioners of 
Highways, as well as the Trustees of the Village of Buffalo, 
which defeated this plan, will be alluded to in its place. 

I cannot give the date of his survey of a disputed line be- 
tween South Carolina and Georgia. Upon this occasion he 
was attacked so severely by the prevailing fever at Savannah, 
that his recovery was contrary to his own and his physician's 
expectations. He returned again to Philadelphia. 

In 1797, he began the survey of the Holland Purchase. It 
is not necessary to make any statement here of the circum- 
stances which led to that purchase, further than to say that it was 
made by a Company composed of men in Holland, who had, on 
the responsibility of the King of France, loaned sums of money 
to our Government during the War of the Revolution. These 
gentlemen were probably induced, by the insecurity of prop- 
erty resulting from the French Revolution, to invest largely in 
property in this section of country, then entirely unsettled. 

Mr. Ellicott was selected by their general agent at Philadel- 
phia as the most competent surveyor they could find. He first 
made the survey of the Company's lands in Western Pennsyl- 
vania. He then repaired to the western part of this State, and 
traced the southern line of Lake Ontario, the Niagara River 
and the borders of Lake Erie, as far as the Pennsylvania line; 
and in the winter following he repaired to Philadelphia. 

In the spring of 1798, he brought one hundred and fifty 
hands to assist in laying out the Holland Purchase into town- 
ships. In this he was greatly assisted by his younger brother, 
Benjamin Ellicott, afterwards a Representative for that District 
in Congress. 

The survey of the Holland Purchase was completed before 
the year 1S00. His reports met with the fullest approbation of 


his employers, and they appointed him their local agent at 
Batavia. His contract with the Company bears date Novem- 
ber 1, 1800, when he was exactly forty years old. 

It is not necessary to enter upon any argument to prove his 
fitness for this position. — Physically capable of enduring great 
hardships, possessed of a well stored and vigorous independent 
mind, and highly gifted with a knowledge of men, it is probable 
that no man could have been more serviceable to the growth 
of the region over which he was to exercise such an influence. 
Even when his views were not the most immediately remuner- 
ative to the Company, his ideas were based upon an almost 
prophetic perception of the future growth of Western New 
York; and the immediate pecuniary returns were sacrificed to 
a confident assurance of vastly increased profits to come at a 
later day, and also to the more rapid development of the re- 
sources of this section of country. My meaning will be made 
clearer when we consider the causes which led to his resigna- 
tion of the office of agent for the Holland Land Company, in 

A remark of Mr. Ellicott's, some years before this time, will 
demonstrate how clearly he saw the true position of this region, 
and what were its resources. He was asked whether he thought 
that Buffalo would ever be larger than Batavia? "This," said 
he, "is to ask whether the local office of the Holland Com- 
pany, or the power of God Almighty is the greatest." His 
predictions of the growth of Buffalo have not yet been veri- 
fied, and his plans for the harbor were suited to a larger com- 
merce than it has yet obtained. 

It is difficult for the present generation to realize fully the 
influence exercised by the local agent of the Holland Land 
Company, as the resources of the country began to develop, 
and its population and wealth increase. I do not know that 
we have anything analogous to it in any part of our country at 
this day. The time has gone by when individuals controlled 
tracts of country like principalities. The facilities of coinmun- 


ication no longer allow such regions to be virtually isolated, 
and thus preserve in all its integrity the power of their influ- 
ential men. Capital also has become abundant, and can be 
readily attracted to any spot where it will find profits; and 
thus, no one individual, by wielding a large portion of the re- 
sources of a wealthy company, amid comparative poverty, can 
permanently occupy a superior grade to that of all around him 

Such, however, was undoubtedly the position of the local 
agent of the Holland Company, for the first twenty years of 
this century. His influence could have become a great po- 
litical power. It did become a great aid to the cause of ed- 
ucation, religion, and the development of the resources of 
the whole State. Hardly a town can be found upon the Pur- 
chase which does not owe a church or a school to the liberal- 
ity of the local agents. And, certainly, no great undertaking 
within its borders could have dispensed with the assistance or 
at least braved the opposition of Mr. Ellicott during his pos- 
session of the agency. The Erie Canal is an example. 

It is also equally difficult to'realize the character of the ob- 
stacles to be overcome by the early settlers in their conquest 
over the wilderness. The same facility of transportation which 
characterizes the settlement of regions which have attracted 
capital to them, makes it nearly impossible to understand the 
entire self dependence of these early settlers. The first great 
element of civilization, viz: Division of labor, could hardly 
be said to exist. Shut up in a region almost inaccessible for a 
considerable portion of the year, and having hardly an outlet 
for the exportation of their only produce, they present a pic- 
ture which has not been realized in the settlement of any of 
our territories during the last thirty years. There are those 
present who remember the scene, and I think that they will 
bear testimony to the accuracy of my statement with regard to 
it; and also to the almost absolute influence which these causes 
would throw into the hands of a man disposed to exert it po- 


But political power never had any attractions for Joseph 

Ellicott. He might have continued to serve as Canal Com- 
missioner if he had lived and retained his health, but this 
would have been solely because he could have been undenia- 
bly useful in that capacity. His ambition never led him to 
seek the votes of his fellow citizens, who would have been only 
too glad to have fulfilled his wishes. He felt that he was ex- 
erting as useful an influence in his capacity of agent as he 
could have done as an elected officer, and he never asked for 
political distinction. 

I have no intention of giving a detailed account of Mr. Elli- 
cott's services from year to year during the twenty years of 
his agency. It is enough to state that his policy was to at- 
tract capital as much as possible to this section of the country; 
and, accordingly, his usual advice to purchasers of land was 
that they should pay little in money, and keep a balance for 
the improvement of their farms. He was satisfied that in this 
manner he should assist to the utmost in developing the re- 
sources of the country, and also make the security perfectly 
good for a large permanent income to the Company. The first 
of these — the security for the debt — was, however, defeated by 
the consequences of the War of 181 2; and the second by the 
taxation of debts due to foreigners. 

It is with the first of these causes alone that I have to deal, 
as the second did not occur in Mr. Ellicott's day. Many here 
present remember the panic and the insecurity produced by 
the war having been brought within our own borders. It was 
a period of danger and anxiety. The frontiers were, of course, 
peculiarly exposed to savage, as well as British incursions. 
Buffalo was burned, and it was evident that the resources of 
the region were altogether insufficient for its defence. 

During this period, the position of Joseph Ellicott was one 
of great responsibility. His counsel, his influence and his purse 
were constantly appealed to, and never in vain; and it is due in 
a great measure to his exertions that the terror was not greater. 


and that hope was still retained amid the general despondency. 

But the evil effects of the war continued their influence in 
the Holland Purchase after the war was ended. The period 
of general bankruptcy which followed the peace, was more dis- 
astrous to Mr. Ellicott's policy than the war itself. It was 
now that the settlers became incapable of meeting their annual 
obligations to the Company, and the agent felt that leniency 
was not merely justice but also expediency. The debts were 
allowed to accumulate still more at a time when European 
money affairs made the proprietors in Holland anxious to re- 
alize every dollar which could be obtained. Thus very little 
consideration was extended to their agent in view of the mo- 
tives which had led him to allow this debt to accumulate. The 
relations between principals and agent continued to become 
less and less agreeable, and, in 1821, Mr. Ellicott withdrew from 
the office which he had controlled for more than twenty years. 

There is no doubt that Mr. Ellicott's policy was an error, 
so far as it is dangerous to allow debts to accumulate, and to 
trust to a continuous increase of capital to increase the facility 
of obtaining money and of paying liabilities. But the penalty 
of this error he paid himself, — the benefits of the policy, I have 
no doubt that we are all reaping. 

I have stated that the position and influence of the local 
agent of the Holland Land Company were such as to render 
his co-operation almost a necessity for the success of any great 
measure which was to take place within the Purchase. The 
history of the Erie Canal I mentioned as an example. 

As early as 1807, a series of articles were published by Mr. 
Jesse Hawley, at Canandaigua, signed " Hercules," advocat- 
ing the necessity of communication by water between Lake 
Erie and the Hudson River. About 1808, or perhaps a little 
earlier, Mr. Ellicott became interested in the project, and ex- 
amined it with a practical eye. He took into consideration 
all the points which belonged to it, in the spirit of a practical 
surveyor, as well as of a man who looked into the future of this 


section of the State. His correspondence with the Holland 
Land Company, with the Canal Commissioners, and with Gov- 
ernor Clinton, between 1808 and 1812, are upon record; and 
prove how far we are indebted to Joseph Ellicott for smooth- 
ing the obstacles which stood in the way of the carrying out of 
this great work. 

In 181 2, he offered a donation of 100,000 acres of land to- 
wards the completion of the Canal. His favorite project, how- 
ever, was a ship canal connecting the Tonawanda and Oak 
Orchard Creeks; but finding that this plan was not adopted by 
Governor Clinton and the other advocates of the Erie Canal, he 
bent his whole energies to assisting in the accomplishment of 
their designs, though he always predicted the final completion 
of the other. His relations with Governor Clinton were of 
the most friendly character, and his practical advice was 
most useful. 

A single example of this will illustrate the service which his 
independent habits of thought, assisted by his education as a 
surveyor, enabled him to give to this work. 

Governor Clinton naturally thought that no risks should be 
undertaken which might be avoided, and proposed that an ex- 
perienced corps of engineers should be engaged from England, 
where canals had been dug, and where practically scientific 
men could be found. He admitted that this would increase 
the expenses, but that the increased security would be worth 
the additional cost; and assumed that it would be dangerous to 
trust to the unscientific engineers of this country. But Mr. 
Ellicott at once met this objection. " What is a canal," said he, 
"but a mill race? Every millwright who understands his bus- 
iness will be as competent an engineer for this canal as the 
most scientific canal maker in England." Governor Clinton 
candidly admitted the force of the suggestion, and the Erie 
Canal was engineered by native science. 

Mr. Ellicott, as I have said, had, at a very early period, a full 
conception of the future growth of Buffalo. In truth, his ideas 


were only too sanguine. He saw the causes which must create 
its growth, while the competing influences had not yet become 
manifest. The commerce of the lakes, and the Erie Canal, he 
felt must create a large commercial city at the entrance of that 
canal; while the railroads, which have made commerce to a 
certain extent independent of water carriage, were not yet 
thought of. He feared the competition of a canal through 
Canada, connecting the lakes, and endeavored to forestall it by 
a ship canal in our own State, making the same connection. 
But he never realized the full extent of this competition with 
the Erie Canal; so that his ideas of the growth of Buffalo were 
more sanguine than has even yet been realized. 

In accordance with these views, he proposed, at some future 
time, when the gift would be appreciated in the growing neces- 
sities of the town, to give to it the land at the mouth of the 
creek, and to have a triangular harbor dug, extending almost to 
the Terrace. This was to be the property of the city, which was 
to build piers after the fashion of those in Atlantic cities, and 
lease them at a great profit, thus paying almost the entire ex- 
pense of the city government. 

I mention this plan solely because it illustrates Mr. Ellicott's 
conceptions of the growing necessities of Buffalo; and also be- 
cause it exhibits the munificence which did not hesitate to give 
most liberally in carrying them out. But I would not be un- 
derstood as advocating the idea that the possession of large 
revenues by the city, aside from taxation, is an unmixed ad- 
vantage. The history of Stephen Girard's bequest to the City 
of Philadelphia for the purpose of lightening its taxation, 
proves that such gifts are apt to have a contrary effect in in- 
ducing reckless expenditures for objects which prove failures; 
and, finally, in greatly increasing the burden of debt. 

But the intention was in accordance with all of Mr. Ellicott's 
views, which had for their first object the growth of this city 
and the development of the resources of the region which he had 
once almost controlled. If there were any error here, it was 


ror of that lofty kind which does not take self as its chief object. 

Another project for the good of the City of Buffalo, through 
which he hoped to have his name associated with the recreations 
and enjoyments of its citizens, was defeated by the action of 
the Commissioners and Trustees. This, perhaps, was the most 
bitter disappointment that he ever experienced. 

Outer lot No. 104, as laid out by Mr. Ellicott, was bounded 
on the west by the present line of Main Street, on the north by 
Eagle, and on the south by Swan Street. Eastward, it extended 
a mile. Midway between Eagle and Swan streets, was a semi- 
circle of nearly a hundred feet radius, extending even beyond 
the westerly line of Main Street as it now exists. Mr. Ellicott 
proposed to build. his house upon this semi-circle, which would 
have been the center to which Niagara Street, Erie Street and 
Main Street, north and south, converged. Main Street was 
to be carried around this circle to the west. A fine garden was 
to be completed, and the whole lot, in time, laid out as a pleas- 
ure ground. 

Here Mr. Ellicott proposed to take up his residence, and, 
after spending the remainder of his life in a spot where he 
could look out from a center upon the city whose future he 
saw in his mind's eye, even more populous and wealthy — if not 
more beautiful — than it has ever yet become, he intended to 
bequeath it to the city as a place of public resort. A magnifi- 
cent park, certainly, as parks were understood in this country 
at that time. 

Mr. Ellicott's tastes were at that day thoroughly genial, and 
no monument could be more in accordance with his sentiments, 
than to associate his name with the great pleasure grounds of 
this city. 

About 1S09, the materials had been collected for this resi- 
dence, and the arrangements made for its erection, when the 
Commissioners put an end to the plan, by running the street 
along the main westerly end of the lot, cutting directly through 
the semi-circle, and isolating the small piece left, from the lot. 


Mr. Ellicott always held that the act of the Commissioners was 
illegal — that they had no authority to run a street of more than 
four rods width. But he saw that there was no use of present 
resistance. The stones were removed, and I believe they were 
used in building the jail. Still Mr. Ellicott hoped that when 
the village was chartered; he could use his influence with the 
Trustees to remedy what he considered his wrong. I do not 
know, however, that he ever made such a proposition. The 
village was chartered, and Mr. Ellicott's duties and responsi- 
bilities resulting from the war, probably took from him all idea 
of building at that time. But I know that he cherished the 
hope for a time, though the first disappointment greatly alien- 
ated his feelings from the citizens of Buffalo. 

But some years after his connection with the Holland Land 
Company had ceased, his interest in his Buffalo property in- 
duced him to build a house, which our citizens know as the 
Goodrich house, at the corner of Main and High streets. This, 
however, was never used by him as a permanent residence, nor 
do I know that it was ever completed by him, though he spent 
a portion of the year 1825 there, without having relinquished 
his Batavia residence. 

But at this time, disappointment in his business relations, 
and the absence of a stimulus needful to his health, had al- 
ready changed the feelings which led him to enjoy the ambi- 
tion he had once experienced of living in the center of a city 
for which he had done so much, and was willing to do so much 
more, to erect. 

I cannot but deeply regret this whole transaction on the 
part of the Commissioners. Surely a little of our Yankee love 
of straight lines could have been allowed to give way to the 
wishes of a man whose soul was bound up in the prosperity of 
this town, and whose weakness — if it can be called one — was 
only to be the chief citizen of a city which he would sacrifice 
almost anything to advance. I believe that with such a desire 
gratified, he would have found the stimulus, which, in after 


days, he lost with the loss of his active life, and that he might 
have been spared the terrible future in store for him. And I 
am free to confess, that, in common with a large number of 
those attached to him by blood and name, it is a source of 
grief that he was thus deprived of a certain means of linking 
his name with the growing prosperity of this city, as long as it 
shall last, and that we are obliged to contemplate the prospect 
of that name dying out of the memory of his fellow citizens, 
almost with the present generation. 

About 1823 or 1824, his health had become considerably 
impaired. His mind, withdrawn from active exertion, seemed 
to brood over the past without any interest in the present. He 
became despondent and melancholy even to hypochondria. At 
his own request he was taken to New York, where he yielded 
to the advice of three principal physicians of that city, of 
whom I only remember Dr. Post as one, and entered the lunatic 
asylum at Bloomingdale. Here, however, his restlessness in- 
creased, and with it his melancholy, and before steps could be 
taken to remove him, he committed suicide on the nineteenth 
of August, 1826. 

In discussing the character of Joseph Ellicott, I can only 
use the desultory recollections which have been my sole guide 
hitherto, in this article. I know but little that would give char- 
acteristic ideas of the man. 

But one marked feature, closely associated with greatness of 
character, he evidently possessed. He was a just man. Pos- 
sessed of a strong will — impatient of opposition — of a quick 
temper, and wielding great power as he did, it is remarkable 
that so few had occasion to complain of him. He was often 
hasty, and sometimes unnecessarily severe for a time, but he 
rarely, if ever, failed to make reparation in the end. 

In politics he belonged to the Republican or Anti-Federal- 
ist party; and, although an ardent partisan at times, he never, 
as I have stated, sought office for himself, nor have I ever heard 
of his using his vast influence, politically, in a coercive manner. 


Until near the close of his life he was extremely genial and 
fond of society. But his malady in his latter years hung about 
him like a cloud; and rarely has a man been seen with such 
concentrated gloom as marked his diseased mind for a year or 
two before his death. 

He was fond of the society of the young, and one of my own 
earliest recollections was hearing him, in his own house, relate 
an anecdote to a visitor. It was an account of one of his meet- 
ings with Red Jacket, and, as it was so characteristic of that 
chief, I shall make no apology for relating it. 

Red Jacket, it is well known, was extremely jealous of the 
progressing settlement of the country by the white man, feel- 
ing that it was the precursor to the extinction of his nation. 
This feeling made him very unfriendly to Mr. Ellicott, whom 
he naturally regarded, in this respect, as the chief enemy 
of his race. Still he was always courteous. On one occasion 
Mr. Ellicott met him in the Tonawanda swamp, and they sat 
down together on a log. After a few moments of silence, 
which Mr. Ellicott knew too much of Indian habits to inter- 
rupt, Red Jacket exclaimed, "Move along, Joe." The request 
was complied with, and after a few minutes of silence it was 
repeated. This was done several times, until Mr. Ellicott had 
moved to the extremity of the log. After the usual pause the 
order came again, "Joe, move along," but in reply it was shown 
that there was no room on the log to allow of this. "That," 
said Red Jacket, "is the way the white man treats us. He 
first says 'move alohg a little,' then 'a little more,' and 
when we have moved as far as we can, he shoves us out of 
the world." 

Mr. Ellicott had a habit of taking young people gently by 
the ear as a kind of greeting, and with something of the same 
habit he used to annoy the Indians a good deal by pulling the 
little tufts of hair to be found occasionally on their chins. 
From this they gave him the name of " Gec-nce-unc-dos-sasc," 
or, "The Mosquito," as I have heard it translated from the Sen- 


eca tongue. Mr. Ellicott was not at all pleased with the desig- 
nation, but the Indians never changed it. 

They called Benjamin Ellicott by a name signifying "The 
man who knows all the world." This arose from seeing him 
draw maps by field notes; and, finding him accurately laying 
down water courses which they recognized, but knew that he 
could never have seen, they gave him credit for wonderful 
knowledge. Perhaps few things could make a more striking 
impression upon the mind of an illiterate savage than such an 
exhibition of knowledge. 

From Mr. Ellicott's early associations, and the fact that all 
his religious instruction was received from the Society of 
Friends, he did not attach the same importance to creeds 
that is given to them by other denominations. Works rather 
than faith appealed to him. He made no distinction in his 
generosity to religious sects. All that he asked assurance 
of was the sincerity of the petitioners and their need of 
his assistance. 

He was never married, and he often expressed regret on that 
account. It was undoubtedly to be regretted, as the influence 
of a wife and family might have done much to have prevented 
the gloom of his later years, and the violent means which closed 

I have thus completed the work requested of me by the So- 
ciety, very imperfectly as regards general information, J>ut as 
my principal object was to give a full idea of the history of 
the transaction respecting outer lot No. 104, with regard to 
which many questions have been asked me, I shall not con- 
sider my labor to have been thrown away if I have succeeded 
in making that point clear to those who have had an imperfect 
knowledge of the subject. A detailed memoir of Joseph Elli- 
cott, exhibiting his life minutely, and detailing at large the 
transactions of his agency from year to year as they affected 
the history of this section of the State, — such a paper is a great 
desideratum; and from the documents in possession of the So- 


ciety, and such as could be obtained, I should think the task one 
of no great difficulty. In the mean time, the reminiscences of 
all who lived in his day should be recorded as material which 
each succeeding year will render more valuable to him who 
would write the history of our city. 





The paper which I have the honor to read to you this even- 
ing, has been prepared from materials gathered by me some 
sixteen years ago. They were then got together in compli- 
ance with the request of a committee, appointed at a Conven- 
tion of Editors and Publishers, held at Rochester, in 1846. 
In order to procure the facts necessary for the compilation of 
a History of the Press of Western New York, suitable per- 
sons, in the several counties of the western part of the State, 
were addressed, and from the facts thus obtained, an inter- 
esting and valuable history was published by the committee. 
The Convention was presided over by Augustine G. Danby, of 
Utica (with whom E. A. Maynard, now of this city, was for- 
merly associated in the publication of the "Utica Observer.") 
Mr. Danby was the editor and publisher of the first news- 
paper published in Rochester, in 1816. Among the members 
of the Convention were James D. Bemis, who was a newspaper 
publisher at Canandaigua, as early as 1803; L. II. Redlield, of 
Syracuse, once an apprentice of Mr. Bemis, and one of the 
earliest publishers of Onondaga county; Edward Peck, pub- 


lisher of the second newspaper at Rochester, in 18 r 8; Fred- 
erick Follett, who published a paper at Batavia, in 1825; Rev. 
John A. Robie, now editor of the "Christian Advocate," of 
this city, and then of the " Genesee Evangelist." The " Buffalo 
Commercial Advertiser" was represented by Doctor Thomas 
M. Foote, and the " Buffalo Morning Express " by Almon M. 

The history of the newspapers hereinafter mentioned, does 
not, therefore, come down later than the year 1846; and I 
have not now continued it to the present time, for the obvious 
reason that it would be impossible to obtain the needful data 
in the limited time I have had for the preparation of this pa- 
per. I intend, hereafter, to write up for publication all the 
changes that have since occurred in the newspaper establish- 
ments of the county, including the new papers that have, from 
time to time, been started, in the interim from 1847 to the 
time of writing. 

When the notes were gathered from which this present his- 
tory has been compiled, great pains were taken to have names 
and dates correctly stated, and they are, therefore, as reliable as 
the circumstances would admit of. Still, much had to be sup- 
plied from personal memory, and obtained from the vague recol- 
lections of others, and entire accuracy is not to be looked for. 

We give, firstly, the history of the "rise and progress" of 
those newspaper establishments which are now in existence in 
this county — the fortunate survivors of a host of aspirants to 
fame and favor, now defunct. Surrounded by the wrecks of 
the past, these living ones should feel sensibly impressed with 
the fate of their dead and gone predecessors and contempo- 
raries. It is well to consider the ample list of those others, 
which, in their time, were talented and influential papers, now 
gone to the crowded "tomb of the Capulets," as a memento won'. 

The first paper published in Western Xew York, this side of 
Canandaigua, excepting a little sheet at Batavia, in 1807, was 
the "Buffalo Gazette," of which the first number was issued 


on the third of October, 181 1, by the brothers, Smith H. and 
Hezekiah A. Salisbury, who came hither from Canandaigua, 
where they had learned the art of printing of James D. Bemis, 
then publisher of the " Ontario Repository." The " Gazette " 
was printed on a sheet of coarse, bluish paper, not half the 
size of one of our present city dailies, and having but four 
narrow columns on a page. The publishers had brought out 
a small stock of books and stationery, and managed to nearly 
fill the paper with advertisements of their own slender assort- 
ment, well "strung out." The "Gazette" was edited by S. 
H. Salisbury until January, 1S18, when he transferred his in- 
terest in the paper to Wm. A. Carpenter, who officiated as* 
editor until the April following, when he relinquished his in- 
terest to H. A. Salisbury, his partner, who changed the title of 
the paper to " Niagara Patriot," and continued its sole pub- 
lisher until the first of January, 1836. On the organization of 
the present County of Erie, in 1820, the territory of which 
was formerly included in the old County of Niagara, the title 
of the paper was changed to " Buffalo Patriot." In 1826, the 
editorship of the paper was again assumed by Mr. Carpenter, to 
whose able pen may be measurably ascribed the success of the 
anti-masonic movement, which, in that exciting era, politically 
revolutionized this county. That accomplished, Mr. Carpenter 
left the chair editorial for a time, and was succeeded by Har- 
vey Newcomb, in 1829, who continued for about one year, 
when Mr. Carpenter again took the helm and steered its po- 
litical course up to 1834. On the first of January, 1S35, the 
first number of the " Daily Commercial Advertiser " was issued 
from the office of the "Patriot," on a super-royal sheet, and 
edited by Guy H. Salisbury. On the first of January, 1S36, 
Bradford A. Manchester purchased one half of the establish- 
ment, and the paper was published by Salisbury <S: Manchester 
for the ensuing six months, edited a part of that time by Dr. 
Thomas M. Foote. and for a short period by T. C. Peters. 
On the first of July, in that year, H. A. Salisbury retired from 


"s/ business, and Dr. Foote and Guy H. Salisbury associated 

themselves with Mr. Manchester, and published the paper 
until August, 1838, when Almon M. Clapp, publisher of the 
"Standard," at Aurora, merged his paper in the weekly "Pa- 
triot," and became one of the editors and proprietors of the 
"Commercial" and "Patriot." Mr. Manchester withdrew 
from the business a few weeks afterwards, and the concern 
was carried on by the remaining partners, under the firm name 
of Salisbury, Foote & Co., until May, 1839, when Messrs. Salis- 
bury and Clapp disposed of their interests to Dr. Foote and 
Elam R. Jewett, which latter gentleman was, at that time, 
publisher of the "Daily Buffalo Journal," which was merged 
in the " Commercial " by the arrangement. The united papers 
were thenceforward published by E. R. Jewett <Sc Co., and 
edited by Dr. Foote, assisted at times by Dr. Daniel Lee, until 
1847, the year to which these sketches are brought. 
The "Buffalo Republican," the first Democratic paper pub- 
lished in this county, was started in April, 1828, weekly, by 
Wm. P. M. Wood, who published it until September, when it 
passed into the hands of Smith H. Salisbury, and Wm. S. 
Snow. In April, 1829, Mr. Snow disposed of his interest to 
Mr. Salisbury. In the spring of 1830, it was purchased by 
Henry L. Ball, and carried on by him until some time in 1831, 
when he sold out to Charles Faxon and James Stryker, which 
latter gentleman had edited the paper while in the hands of 
Mr. Ball, and continued as its editor until October, 1834, 
when Charles Faxon "bought his interest, and Horatio Gates 
came in as editor. Israel T. Hatch, in 1S31, and Henry K. 
Smith, in 1834, were likewise its political editors. In the spring 
of 1835, the " Bulletin," a weekly paper, and the " Daily Star," 
both of which were then published by James Faxon, were pur- 
chased by Charles Faxon, who thereupon merged the " Bulle- 
tin " in the "Republican," and continued the "Star" as the 
daily. In August, 1838, Mr. Gates retired from the editorship, 
and was succeeded by Wm. L. Crandall. The establishment 


was destroy A by fire in December of that year, and was neces- 
sarily suspended for several weeks, to procure materials, &c. 
The publication of the paper was resumed in February, 1839, 
by Quartus Graves, who had bought out Mr. Faxon, and Mr. 
Gates returned to his editorial duties, with J. W. Dwinnell as 
assistant, for a short period. In April, 1840, Mr. Gates again 
left the political arena, and his post was taken by Stephen 
Albro, with J. C. Bunner as assistant for a few months. In 
April, 1 841, Mr. Albro was superseded by Samuel Caldwell, 
who, after a few weeks' trial of the pains and pleasures of the 
life editorial, relinquished it, and A. C. Bunner assumed the 
charge of the paper, until Mr. Graves sold out to Henry Bur- 
well, first of January, 1842, who changed the title of the paper 
to "Democratic Economist," of which Henry White took the «/ 
editorial charge. On the first of October, 1842, Joseph String- 
ham purchased the establishment, and issued the daily under 
the title of " Mercantile Courier," of which he was the editor. 
On the first of July, 1846, the "Daily National Pilot," which 
was published by Bradford A. Manchester and James O. Bray- 
man, was united with the " Courier," and the paper was car- 
ried on by Stringham, Manchester & Brayman, until Novem- 
ber, 1846, when Mr. Stringham disposed of his interest to his 
partners, and Guy H. Salisbury was associated with Mr. Bray- 
man in its editorial management. The " Courier" is now the 
oldest daily paper in the city, having been first started as the 
"Daily Star," in April, 1834. 

The "Morning Express," daily and weekly, was commenced 
on the fourteenth of January, 1846, byAlmon M. Clapp, Rufus 
Wheeler and William M'Credie, under the firm of A. M. Clapp 
& Co. — Mr. Clapp as editor. In October following, W. E. 
Robinson was associated in its editorship. 

The " Republic," daily and weekly, was started in January, 
1847, by an association of journeymen printers, under the firm 
of Livingston, Albro & Co. After passing through several 
changes of proprietors and editors, which cannot be here par- 


tici^irized, for the general reason previously given, it was 
merged in the " Daily Courier" a little over two years ago. 

" Der Weltburger," a German Democratic weekly paper, was 
started in December, 1837, by George Zahm. In the fall of 
1844, Mr. Zahm was killed while assisting in raising a hickory 
pole in Cheektowaga, and the administrators of his estate carried 
on the paper until the fall of 1845, during which time it was 
edited by Jacob M. Zahm. It was then purchased by Dr. F. 
C. Brunck and J. Domidion, who commenced issuing it, semi- 
weekly, on a small imperial sheet, and enlarged the weekly to 
the size of the other city papers. 

The " Telegraph," a weekly neutral German paper, super- 
royal size, was commenced in November, 1845, by H. B. Mil- 
ler — Adolphus Heilman, editor. 

The above is a strictly outline sketch of the origin and pro- 
gress of those of our city journals which were in being prior to 
1847, and still exist, and embraces a portion of those of which 
they were the lineal successors. The early history of several 
others, that have been "merged" in the present papers, will 
now follow, together with an extended "obituary" of a large 
list, which have, from time to time, been on the busy stage of 
hebdomadal and diurnal existence, in the city and county, to 
flourish for a season and pass away, like all earthly things — 
upon which the relentless hand of Fate has inscribed the sig- 
nificant Hie Jacet. 

It is curious to note the surprising number of these unsuc- 
cessful newspaper undertakings. The reason is unquestionably 
to be found in the fact that the enterprise of the publishers was 
a good deal larger than their capitals. In most instances it was 
the rashest temerity that prompted them to embark in business 
requiring large permanent outlay, depending almost altogether 
on continued credit for the means. No other branch of man- 
ufacturing could be even as well managed in the same way; for 
printers are quick at expedients, and often have to make brains 
answer for bullion. But the In Memoriam will tell its own story: 


The second paper which made its appearance in the Village 
of Buffalo, was the "Niagara journal," commenced in July, 
1815, by D vid M. Day. Its title was changed to "Buffalo 
Journal," when Erie County was set off from old Niagara. It 
was edited by several of the leading politicians of those years, 
say to about 1822, when R. W. Haskins contributed mainly to 
its editorial columns, until Oran Follett became a partner with 
Mr. Day, in 1826, and assumed the editorship. In 1827, Mr. 
Haskins became one of its proprietors, and joint editor. In 
1830, Messrs. Follett and Haskins retired from the establish- 
ment, and it was carried on by Mr. Day, until 1834, when it 
was sold to Elijah J. Roberts, who, in the summer of that year, 
issued from the office a daily of large size, under the name of 
"Daily Advertiser," for about six weeks. Colonel Morgan was 
assistant editor with Colonel Roberts, and the late Comfort F. 
Butler became one of the publishers. In the early part of 1835, 
the paper was suspended, after an existence of nearly twenty 
years, during the greater part of which time it had enjoyed a 
large patronage, and bid fair for a long life of prosperity. But 
Mr. Day had established during the winter previous, a new 
weekly paper, the "Buffalo Whig," of which R. W. Haskins 
was editor; and the personal popularity of Mr. Day won him 
the patronage of his friends, the old supporters of the " Jour- 
nal," which thus went down. 

Soon after the suspension of the "Journal," its title and sub- 
scription list were purchased by Mr. Day, who added the title 
of the "Journal" to his new paper, and thus again set afloat 
the sinking craft which he had gallantly sailed for nigh a score 
of years. On the first of January, 1836, Mitchenor Cadwalla- 
der and Dr. Henry R. Stagg became partners with Mr. Day, 
and in the February following commenced the daily "Buffalo 
Journal," edited by Messrs. Cadwallader and Stagg. In 1S37, 
Mr. Day retired, and the paper was continued by Messrs. 
Stagg & Cadwallader, until the fall of 1838, when the estab- 
lishment was purchased by Elam R. Jewett, and Dr. Daniel 


Lee and J. B. Clarke took the editorial charge. In May, 1839, 
the "Journal" was merged in the "Commercial Advertiser," as 
before nentioned. 

In September, 1824, John A. Lazelle and Simeon Francis 
commenced the "Buffalo Emporium," a weekly paper, which 
acquired a speedy notoriety by its very remarkable editorial 
inaugural, certainly the most singular specimen of composition 
that was ever put forth on such an occasion. The cut which 
ornamented the head of the paper is well worth a peep at, as 
showing a bird's-eye view of our canal and lake business at that 
period. It represented the canal with one solitary boat, and 
the harbor with four or five schooners, and with no buildings 
below the canal, save three or four famished-looking ware- 
houses. The census of 1825, taken by Captain Leonard P. 
Crary, showed a population of 2,412 in Buffalo Village, which 
was a gain of one hundred per cent, within the four pre- 
vious years. The marine belonging to Buffalo consisted of 
one steamboat, the "Superior," six schooners and one brig. 
The "Emporium" was issued semi-weekly, from December, 
1826, being the first publication other than weekly made in 
this place. It was discontinued in the latter part of 1829, 
when Mr. Lazelle removed to Columbus, Ohio, where he still 
resides, an independent farmer. Mr. Francis went to Spring- 
field, Illinois, where he published the "Sangamon Journal" 
for many years. 

During the winter of 1827-8, a paper was started by Charles 
Sentell and Billings Haywood, entitled " Western Advertiser," 
and devoted to the cause of Anti-masonry, then making rapid 
progress in this section. The late Oliver Forward and James 
Sheldon were active contributors to its columns. The paper, 
after three months' existence, was merged in the "Buffalo 
Patriot," — a fact which we omitted to chronicle in the career 
of that print. 

In the spring of 1830, Horace Steele commenced issuing the 
" Buffalo Bulletin," a weekly, which advocated the interests of 


the "Working Men," then forming a distinct party organiza- 
tion under which Isaac S. Smith, of this city, was run for Gov- 
ernor. Mr. Steele continued the paper after the political objects 
of that party were abandoned, as a Democratic paper. About 
r ebruary, 1831, it was bought by James Faxon, and Mason 
Brayman became its editor. In July of that year, Mr. Faxon 
issued the first daily in this city, with the name of " Daily Star," 
which was at first neutral, but in November following came out 
Democratic. In the spring of 1835, the establishment was sold 
to Charles Faxon, who united the " Bulletin " with the " Repub- 
lican," and continued the " Star " as the daily, as we have be- 
fore noticed. 

About the first of August, 1835, the "Transcript," daily and 
weekly, was started by Henry Faxon, and at first edited, if we 
mistake not, by E. J. Roberts. In December, the editorship 
was taken by Edward H. Thompson. The paper lived for six 

There were also issued, about this period — in 1835 — several 
other small daily sheets, of which we only recollect the " Daily 
Whig" and the "Daily Enquirer." These lived but two or 
three weeks, and passed into oblivion. 

We must not overlook a rare little weekly sheet issued for a 
few weeks, in the winter of 1835-6, called the " Loco-foco," the 
object of which was a hearty and honest opposition to monop- 
olies and all sorts of abuses. It was a vigorous and racy 
affair — the embodiment of what might be called philosophical 
Loco-focoism, before it became so important an element in the 
political field — in short, the paper was something after the style 
of Leggett's " Plain Dealer." For its peculiar doctrines, that 
well known old resident, Sylvester Chamberlain, was held re- 
sponsible, as principal editor. Though not aspiring to the title 
of " Learned Blacksmith," his wit and sound good sense were 
none the less acceptable from his having hammered at the an- 
vil. He was assisted by a number of talented coadjutors, whose 
names were "under the rose."" The eloquent S. C. H., the 


208 £.4j?Z F HISTOR Y OF THE 

shrewd jurist N. K. H., and the humorous S. G. H.* were those 
whom we recollect among them. There was an admirable polit- 
ical axiom, from an article furnished to the " Loco-foco " by 
one of these gentlemen, to this effect — " There are two things 
which God never i?itended should be created — mules and corpora- 
tions." Such was the sententious, truth-in-a-nutshell style of 
this original little paper. But, like the lightning's flash, 'twas 
brilliant and 'twas brief. 

In the winter of the famous " Patriot War," an association 
of journeymen printers got up a spicy little weekly sheet, called 
the " Buffalonian;" edited by that versatile genius, Mr. "Anon." 
As it " took," as the phrase is, it was, after a few weeks, issued 
daily by F. B. Ward & Co., and Mr. Anon turned into Mr. 
George Arlington. Its flash style, and biting personalities, 
rapidly procured it a large circulation, and Mr. Arlington 
changed into Mr. Thomas L. Nichols. In the fall Mr. Nichols 
left the concern and started an opposition print of like species, 
yclept " Mercury." The "Buffalonian " was continued under 
the editorial charge of J. W. Dwinnell, and divested of its ob- 
noxious features, until it was found to be like playing " Hamlet," 
with the part of Hamlet left out; and in some two months, Mr. 
Nichols bought out the "Buffalonian," and united the "Mer- 
cury " with it. It continued in his hands until the fall of 1S39, 
when N. R. Stimpson went into it, and published it until the 
succeeding spring, when it died a natural death, having run 
itself out. 

The "Sun," daily and weekly, was commenced in the winter 
of 1838-9 by "Governor" Dinsmore. It went into the hands 
of E. H. Eastabrooks in the May following, and was discon- 
tinued in October. 

The "Buffalo Sentinel," a daily and weekly, was started in 
the spring of 1839-40, by C. F. S. Thomas and Thomas New- 
ell. It was edited for a while by Thomas L. Nichols, and for 

*Seth C. Hawley, Nathan K. Hall and Solomon G. Haven.— Ed. 


about three months by Henry Reed, Jr. It was discontinued 
after the fall election. 

The "Morning Tattler," daily, was issued in the summer of 
1840, by Langdon, Fouchette & Shaefer, and edited at first by 
QfK >rge W. Bungay, and subsequently by Thomas L. Nichols, 
for a short time. It was then published for a few months by 
John S. Walker, as the " Morning Times," when it went dead 
one day. 

" Honest Industry " was the name of a large and handsome 
paper edited by Dr. Daniel Lee, of which the first number was 
issued in the summer of 1840, and which, as its title imports, 
was devoted to the cause of the working classes. From some 
defect in the arrangements, no more numbers ever came out, 
to the great grief of honest Jesse Beck, who had embarked in 
a crusade for Legal Reform. 

The "Phalanx," issued in 1840, daily and weekly, was the first 
daily paper published on this side of the Atlantic devoted ex- 
clusively to the advocacy of the social reform, and the reorgan- 
ization of labor, originated and taught by Charles Fourier and 
Albert Brisbane, and what have been denominated the doc- 
trines of "Association." It was edited by Charles D. Ferris, 
with much ability, but the public are not philosophers, and new 
notions have to work their way slowly. The " Phalanx " was 
discontinued at the end of six weeks. It was not exactly known 
who was proprietor, but C. C. Bristol stood the expense. 

A German weekly paper was started by the Whigs in the spring 
of 1840, called " Volksfreund," which was edited by Adolphus 
Meyer. It was only kept up till just after election that year. 

Another German weekly was commenced January 1, 1S43, 
by Alexander Krause and Adolphus Meyer, which pursued a 
neutral course for the first year, and then came out Whig. It 
lived after this until the summer of 1S45. This was called the 

The " School Reader " was a weekly publication designed 
for the use of schools, which was issued in 1S42, by A. W. Wil- 


gus, edited by R. W. Haskins. It was admirably designed for 
the object aimed at, but did not obtain a patronage commen- 
surate with its merits, and was discontinued at the end of the 
first quarter. It was thought that a journal of that kind, to be 
read weekly in schools as a part of the studies, would be found 
so useful and interesting an auxiliary to the teacher, as to meet 
with general favor, if perseveringly kept up and introduced to 
public notice. 

The noted Thomas Jefferson Sutherland, the redoubtable 
Patriot General of the Western Division of the Liberating Army 
of Canada, published in the winter of 1841-2, a few numbers 
of a paper — semi-monthly — under the sounding title of " Sub- 
lime Patriot." What its effect upon the destinies of Canada 
would have been, had it been kept in being until now, has not 
yet been ascertained. 

The " Buffalo American," a weekly paper, designed for the 
mechanical and working classes, was commenced in the winter 
or spring of 1842, by Thomas Foster and C. F. Butler, and ed- 
ited by J. C. Bunner. It was discontinued at the end of its first 

The " Daily Gazette" was started in August, 1842, by Charles 
Faxon, 2d, and after a few weeks, a weekly entitled ' Old School 
Jeffersonian," was issued, which sustained the administration of 
President Tyler. In February ensuing, these papers were dis- 
continued, when the " Buffalo Gazette," daily and weekly, was 
commenced by H. A. Salisbury, B. A. Manchester and James 
O. Brayman. The V Gazette " was continued until the end of 
its second year, in February, 1845, when it was discontinued, 
and Messrs. Manchester and Brayman established the " National 
Pilot," daily and weekly, in conjunction with R. W. Haskins, 
who was associated with Mr. Brayman in its editorship. The 
plan of the " Pilot " was new and peculiar — aiming at a nation- 
ality of interest and feeling that should render Americans freer 
from English influences in their literature, their science, their 
political economy, and their views of the political and soeial 


condition of the world at large. In April, 1846, Mr. Haskins 
relinquished his editorship, and on the first of July, the " Pilot " 
was united with the "Courier," as before mentioned. 
S The "Temperance Standard," exclusively devoted to the 
subject of Temperance, was published during 1842, one year, 
by H. A. Salisbury and A. M. Clapp. 

There has been equally as great a mortality among the 
religious publications that have been attempted here. That 
they have not been more successful in establishing themselves 
upon a permanent foundation, is not to be attributed to any 
lack of merit on their part — for some of the number have been 
conducted with much ability and industry — but rather to the 
fact that the religious papers in the large cities have so greatly 
the advantage over those published in the interior, from their 
great circulation, aided by extensive agencies all over the Union. 

The "Gospel Advocate," Universalist, was commenced in 
1822, by Rev. Thomas Gross, editor and proprietor. On the ex- 
piration of the first year, it went into the hands of Simon Bur- 
ton, who carried it on for the ensuing three years. It was then 

taken by Rev. L. S. Everett, Rev. Theopholis Fisk, and 

Tuttle, who published the paper in this place until 1828, when 
it was removed to Auburn, and subsequently united with the 
"Evangelical Magazine," at Utica. 

The " Western Evangelist," a religious paper, of the Uni- 
versalist denomination, was commenced in June, 1846, by Rev. 
L. S. Everett, editor and proprietor, but was not long-lived. 

The " Warning " was a little periodical, published once a 
fortnight, during the year 182S, by Rev. Jabez B. Hyde, and 
which was entirely devoted to the explanations of the personal 
wrongs and grievances sustained by him in consequence of the 
action of the Buffalo Presbytery upon his ministerial functions 
as missionary among the Indians. It was a curious specimen 
of typography, as Mr. Hyde bought some old type, and learned 
to set them in his old age, for the purpose of spreading his case 
before the public, and composed the matter with his own hands, 


without much reference to the established rules of the art. 

There was a periodical printed and published at the Mission 
House, on the Indian Reservation, near this city, for several 
C years, in the Seneca language, under the charge of the mission- 

ary, Rev. Asher Wright. It was designed to aid the religious 
teachings to the Indians, which the Mission was instituted for. 
We paid a visit to the " office " some years since, and found the 
workmen engaged upon it were a couple of young Indians, who 
had been taught enough of the "art and mystery" to set up 
the gutturals that make up their native tongue. The paper 
was removed to the Cattaraugus Reservation, since the Sene- 
cas left our vicinity, where it was printed under the title of 
" Mental Elevator," but whether that was its original name, or 
when it was commenced, we have not learned. The numerous 
accented characters which are employed in the Seneca lan- 
guage make the paper much resemble the phonographic prints 
— only a little more so. 

The "Gospel Banner" was a monthly periodical published 
by Benjamin Clark, of Alden, in this county, which was printed 
for a short time in this city in 1832 or 1833. It advocated a 
general union of Christians into one body — the consequent 
doing away of sects, and the observance of the seventh day as 
the Sabbath.. 

The " Buffalo Herald " was a Presbyterian paper, which was 
started in 1S31, by Rev. Randolph Stone, and of which two 
numbers only were issued, when a disagreement with the pro- 
prietor of the office where it was printed, resulted in its dis- 

The first temperance paper published in this city was the 
"Young Men's Temperance Herald," which was commenced 
in 1835 and continued for one year. It was conducted by 
Abel M. Grosvenor and Ezra B. French. 

The " Philanthropist " was a monthly publication by Nath- 
aniel Potter, Jr., issued for perhaps a year, in about 1837 or 
1838 — the object of which, as implied by its title, was the 


general welfare of mankind. We believe it went strongly for 
universal peace and non-resistance. 

The "Buffalo Spectator," Presbyterian, was established in 
1836, by Messrs. T. & M. Butler, and edited by Rev. Stephen 
Peet. It was published about two years. 

The "Bethel Flag" was a monthly publication, designed for 
the advancement of the moral and religious condition of the 
boatmen and seamen on the canal and lakes, which was com- 
menced by the Bethel Society, in 1836 or 1837, originally with 
the title of "Bethel Magazine." It was doubtless of much 
usefulness in its sphere, and kept the field until about 1845, 
when it was united with the " Sailor's Magazine " in New York. 

The " Friend of Youth " was a highly useful monthly peri- 
odical, devoted to the moral culture of the rising generation, 
which was commenced in 1839 and published for one year. It 
was edited by Rev. A. T. Hopkins. 

The " Western Presbyterian " was published for one year, 
commencing March 1, 1S41, by Rev. John C. Lord, D.D. 

There have been a few literary undertakings that have not 
been sustained in our city, as below set forth. 

The " Literary Enquirer" was the first literary journal pub- 
lished in this city, and was started by Wm. Verrinder, January 
1, 1833, as a semi-monthly, under the auspices of the Buffalo 
Lyceum. It was conducted with ability, and with great in- 
dustry, but the publisher bestowed more expense upon it than 
its patronage warranted. After sustaining it for two years, he 
finally removed the concern to Fredonia, Chautauqua County, 
where it was changed into a political newspaper. 

The "Buffalo Garland," by Geo. W. Bungay, a weekly liter- 
ary sheet, was issued for a brief season in 1S40, when it faded, 
"all cent-less and dead." 

" Bannister's Life in Buffalo," weekly, edited by N. H. Ban- 
nister, the author of several tolerably successful plays, was 
printed by Governor Dinsmore, for a few weeks, say in 1841, 
when the curtain dropped. 

2I 4 


" The Impetus," by E. W. Spaulding, was a quarto, issued 
for six months, in the summer of 1845, when the impetus 
proved insufficient to propel it farther. 

The "Literary Messenger" was started in July, 1841, 
as a semi-monthly, by John S. Chadbourne. In July, 1842, 
Charles D. Ferris took one half the concern, and the paper 
was issued weekly. Mr. Ferris remained in it for one year, 
when he was succeeded by Jesse Clement. In May, 1846, 
Mr. Chadbourne's interest was purchased by Charles Faxon, 
2d, and the paper was for a short time published under the 
firm of Clement & Faxon. It was then taken by Jewett, 
Thomas & Co., and continued till 1857, when it ceased. 

The "Western Cataract," a weekly paper devoted to tem- 
perance, was issued in January, 1845, by Lyman P. Judson, 
and has been successively in the hands of James Dubois, W. 
B. Williams, and Chauncey Hulburt. Mr. Hulburt changed its 
title to "Western Temperance Standard," under which it was 
continued for a short time. 

The " Buffalo Medical Journal and Monthly Review of 
Medical and Surgical Science," was commenced on the first of 
June, 1845, by Dr. Austin Flint, editor and publisher, as an 
octavo of twenty-four pages. At the end of the first year, it 
was enlarged to sixty-four pages. In 1854, Dr. Sandford B. 
Hunt was associated with Dr. Flint in the editorship, and in 
1855 became sole editor and proprietor. In 1858, Austin 
Flint, Jr., became its editor, and the Journal was, in 1859, re- 
moved to New York, where it was discontinued. 

The "Buffalo Medical and Surgical Journal," about two 
years ago, took the place of the former periodical of that 
name, and is now edited by Dr. Julius F. Miner. 

These extended notices of the past and perished city jour- 
nals of the bye-gone years will close with the following allusion 
to those once published in the county villages: 

The first paper published in our then rival village of Black 
Rock, was the "Black Rock Beacon," by Lewis G. Hoffman, 


which came out some time in 1822. The late General Peter B. 
Porter was an able and liberal contributor to its columns, dur- 
ing the bitter and protracted controversy which at that period 
was carried on between the leading citizens of Buffalo on the 
one side, and the " Rock " on the other, in relation to the Har- 
bor Question. The war bid fair to rival in duration the Punic 
campaigns of ages ago, until it was pretty satisfactorily demon- 
strated that Black Rock — with all the artificial aids of the ex- 
tensive works erected by the State to furnish a capacious basin 
for the supply of the canal, and also to incidentally create a 
harbor that should attract all the commerce of the lakes to that 
point — could not successfully compete with the natural advan- 
tages of Buffalo. The "Beacon" at length " paled its ineffectual 
fires," and went out, in 1824. In the latter part of the same 
year, Bartemas Ferguson filled the vacancy with the "Black 
Rock Gazette," which he continued until August, 1825, when 
it was sold to Smith H. Salisbury, and published at Black 
Rock until the fall of 1827, when, the fortunes of that village 
continuing to decline, the establishment was removed to Buf- 
falo, and published under the title of " Buffalo and Black Rock 
Gazette," until April, 182S, when the "Gazette " was discontin- 
ued, and the "Buffalo Republican " issued from the same office 
by Wm. P. M. Wood, as before mentioned. 

No further attempts were made to furnish a paper to the 
Black Rockers, until the speculative era of 1836 opened their 
eyes to the prospective value of the lands under their feet, and 
vistas of future opulence swam before the eyes of the real es- 
tate* holders who had been so long "looking up" — on their 
backs. Then, a paper was in demand, and 1). P. Adams issued 
the "Black Rock Advocate." in February, 1S36, edited by Dr. 
M. G. Lewis. . But the feverish impulses of that precocious 
period soon subsided, and the reaction changed the prospects 
of the "Advocate," which was discontinued at the end of the 
first year. Black Rock has since looked to the Buffalo press 
for its news, and for the publication of its local items; and it 


is not probable that another journal will be located there for 
some time yet. 

The Village of Aurora — or rather the two villages, as they 
formed a disjunctive conjunction — had ambitious aspirings in 
1835, that required the establishment of newspapers to aid the 
development of the advantages and resources of that fine town 
and adjacent country. Accordingly, in August of that year, 
the ''Aurora Standard " was issued at East Aurora, by our fel- 
low editor, Almon M. Clapp, and a well-conducted paper it 
was — one of the best of the country press. It was neutral the 
first year and then came out Whig. In the fall of 1838, the 
''Standard" was merged in the "Buffalo Patriot," as was like- 
wise its editor and publisher. The "Aurora Democrat" was 
started about the same time with 'the "Standard" at the West 
Village of Aurora, by Deloss E. Sill. It was, as its name indi- 
cates, democratic in politics. At the expiration of a few 
months it was discontinued, and the materials moved to Elli- 
cottville, Cataraugus County. Since then, Aurora, East or 
West, had no local organ, save the "Watchman," an unique 
little thing, the size of a sheet of letter paper, printed by Mas- 
ter O. C. Hoyt, who had learned a smattering of type setting, 
and got a small lot of old type together, out of which he made 
a paper, which was printed on a cheese-press. It soon shared 
the fate of many a cotemporary of larger dimensions and pre- 
tensions, and "was not." 

A paper called the " % Lodi Pioneer," in 1827, was issued at 
Lodi, by Lewis B. Edwards, by whom it was published for 
some two or three years, when it passed into the hands of 
George N. Starr, who changed its name to " Lodi Freeman," 
and removed his office to that part of the village, over the 
creek, in Cattaraugus County — where the paper was published 
until his death, in 1837, when it was suspended. In 1839 or 
1840, the materials were purchased by Edwin Hough, who re- 
sumed the publication of the paper; and, in 1S45, the office was 
removed by Mr. Hough to Springville, in this county, whence 


the "Springville Express " was issued by him for some five or 
six years, when he removed his establishment from the county. 
The foregoing sketch is, of course, but a dry and meager 
one; for, should we attempt to amplify it by details, it would 
exceed the limits to which these papers must be confined. 
There might many a piquant thing be said, — many an interest- 
ing reminiscence awakened, did we dare to let our pen wander 
into the past, in rambling mood, to touch upon the "matters 
and things in general " which legitimately belong to the sub- 
ject, but which must be passed in silence. Among these, are 
early incidents of the rise and progress of Buffalo, from the 
little cluster of rude huts on the brow of the Terrace, to the 
wide-spread and populous city we see around us. There are, 
too, many events of great interest to us locally, connected 
with the lives and personal histories of the pioneers who 
planted themselves upon this spot, then so destitute, appar- 
ently, of the advantages of position, that have since been so 
splendidly developed. Many a doubtful hour of privation 
and discouragement was mingled in their lot, when the destiny 
of Buffalo was hidden by the cloudy curtain of the future. 
That destiny has since been revealed by each successive year, 
until its ultimate greatness is no longer a matter of uncertainty 
or chance. Let us, when surrounded by the proud monuments 
of industry, of enterprise, of wealth, that have builded us this 
beautiful Metropolis of the Lakes, remember often, and with 
gratitude, the pioneers of the Village of Buffalo. 



RED JACKET (sa-go-ye-wat-ha.) 




Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Historical Society: 

It is with great pleasure that I appear before you this even- 
ing for the purpose of presenting to you a memorial of the 
now nearly extinct race, which, within the memory of many 
persons now living, were the sole possessors of the beautiful 
country we now occupy. Our early settlers were familiar with 
them in their every-day habits and pursuits, when, in that 
early frontier life, they were themselves scarcely better pro- 
vided with household comforts. And in the contest, if it may 
be so termed, between savage and civilized life, in that early 
period, the victory was not always with the race which repre- 
sented civilization. Many instances there were where the 
white man became the convert of the savage, and embraced 

♦The frontispiece of this volume is an excellent steel engraving by Danforth, of R. W. 
Weir's original portrait of Red Jacket, the presentation of a copy of which to the Buffalo 
Historical Society occasioned the address here printed. The presentation took place at 
St. James' Hall, at the date above given, as part of the exercises connected with the de- 
livery of the Annual Address for 1S6S by William H. (ireene, Esq. 


the habits of, and became incorporated with, the native red 
men. This occurred in quite as many instances as that of the 
red man adopting the civilization of the white race. This, 
however, could only b« temporary. The white race were con- 
stantly pressing forward in the march of civilization, and 
surrounding themselves with those household comforts, and 
institutions of domestic and public life, before which the 
race of red men have so rapidly disappeared, as is their inev- 
itable destiny. But that race which has so nearly passed 
away, were by no means ignorant nor unintellectual. There 
were many men among them of a high order of intellect, and 
endowed with moral attributes which would do honor to true 
Christian civilization. In the intercourse between the early 
white settlers and the Indians, the great law of justice between 
man and man was, at least, as frequently violated by the race 
claiming superiority, as by the savage, who recognized no re- 
sponsibility but his own sense of justice and right. The In- 
dian has, unfortunately, no historian of his own, but if the real 
history of the long physical and moral contest between the 
races could be revealed, it might not always be so exclusively 
creditable to the now dominant race, as would seem from the 
records made by white historians. 

But this is neither the time nor the place to discuss ques- 
tions now lost in the lapse of time. That great wrong and in- 
justice were done to the native tribes will not be denied; and 
this may properly be attributed to the inferior class of white 
men who have, necessarily, been the first to meet the Indian 
in his native wilds. This was, however, quickly followed by a 
better class, who brought with them the institutions and sur- 
roundings of that civilization, which has, in less .time than is 
commonly allotted to the life of man, raised our land from the 
wild uselessness of savage life, to the high and prosperous con- 
dition of the present time. When we contrast the scattered 
settlements of 1800, surrounded by Indians who could have 
annihilated them in a single night, with the present powerful. 


prosperous and highly cultivated condition of all Western New- 
York, we can say, with truth, that the triumph of the white 
race is the triumph of those great principles of human progress 
which are constantly pressing us forward to a higher and 
grander civilization. But, while we look with justifiable pride 
upon the rapid progress we have made, and rejoice in the sure 
prospect of the continued advance of physical improvement 
and social refinement, we should do justice to the race we' 
have displaced, and whose rich heritage we now possess. 

Many of the chiefs of the Seneca tribe were known to our 
early settlers, and ranked high in their estimation, as men of 
mark in intellectual and moral strength. Their virtues were 
their own; their vices principally the result of too free inter- 
course with the lower order of whites. We should, therefore, 
give them full credit for all the good qualities they possessed, 
and look with kindness and charity upon the weaknesses and 
vices which finally prostrated them before the superior intelli- 
gence and power of the white race. 

Among the chiefs of the Seneca nation residing in this 
vicinity in the early days of our settlement, was the one 
known in history as Red Jacket, a name given him by the 
whites; his Indian name being Sa-go-ye-zuat-ha, or, in English, 
"He keeps them awake;" a name which correctly expresses 
his peculiar character. He was not a war chief, but an orator. 
In his own proud language, he was "born an orator." There 
are many names in Indian history which stand higher in the 
warlike traditions of the race, but 'none approaches him in in- 
tellectual power, unbending integrity, or unselfish devotion to 
his people. He was an Indian of the Indians, possessing 
every noble quality peculiar to his race; as well as some of 
their weaknesses and vices. The controlling sentiment of his 
life appears to have been patriotism: love of his race and his 
tribe. His life was one incessant antagonism to the encroach- 
ments of the whites upon Indian territory, and to the propaga- 
tion of their religious faith. Mistaken, as he certainly was, in 


his views of the Christian religion, there was little in the con- 
duct and personal character of borderers, land speculators and 
traders, to inspire him with confidence in a faith which had 
such representatives. His keen, sagacious mind could not dis- 
cover in the daily life and conduct of these men any very con- 
clusive evidence that the religious faith they professed made 
any better men than the simple faith of his own people. From 
his standpoint of observation, the whites he most frequently 
met were the inferiors of the people of his tribe, in all the 
qualities he deemed most honorable. That he held these 
opinions sincerely, there can be no possible doubt. He acted 
upon our own scriptural maxim: " By their fruits ye shall 
know them;" and it is not surprising that these opinions should 
strengthen as he advanced in life. He saw his nation fading 
away before the irresistible progress of the white race; and he 
could understand only that it was by the arbitrary exercise of 
force and power to deprive them of their lands and annihilate 
the whole people. The futility of all efforts to prevent this 
was long apparent to him, and the final destruction of his 
tribe inevitable. But he was faithful to the end. By no act 
or consent of his was any treaty made which abandoned any 
portion of their territory, or any rights and privileges of his 
people. When others of his tribe, with more prudence and 
less integrity, provided for themselves, in the negotiations for 
their lands, Red Jacket sternly refused to care for himself at 
the expense of justice to his tribe; and he died poor and almost 
friendless, but in every respect faithful to his nation and to the 
faith of his fathers. His last days were passed at his cabin on 
the Buffalo Reservation, a few miles east of this city. The ac- 
counts given of him at this time are truly touching and pa- 
thetic, and reveal the grand old man in an aspect which calls 
for our pity and heartfelt sympathy. 

His death took place January 20, 1830, his age being given 
as seventy-eight. 

I have thus briefly sketched what may be said to be the best 


side of the character of Red Jacket. That he had the faults 
of every great man who is conscious of his own powers, and of 
his superiority to his contemporaries, there can be no doubt. 
He has been charged with selfish cunning in advancing his 
own interests, and with great personal ambition. But are these 
faults peculiar to Indians? Do we not see the same in our 
whole political history? Has not nearly every man who has 
made a name in our history been subjected to the same charges? 
Few men ever made their mark in history, without ambition 
and sufficient sagacity to avail themselves of every honorable 
means to attain the object sought for. I do not propose to at- 
tempt any vindication of the character of Red Jacket in that 
respect. But the great stain upon his character was his habit- 
ual indulgence in strong drink. To this appetite he became a 
slave at an early period, and it continued through all his life. 
From this cause his reputation was lost and his influence wasted 
away. For years previous to his death he indulged in drink 
upon every occasion; and among our citizens, his appearance 
in the streets, helplessly intoxicated, with crowds of idlers jeer- 
ing him as he staggered along, excited the deepest commisera- 
tion in all who knew him in his better days. His power and 
influence were so utterly broken, that a council was held in 
1827, by a party of his tribe, and he was deposed from his 
rank as chief. This aroused the waning energies of the old 
man, and he set to work to vindicate himself and revoke the 
decree. In the strong and effective language of his native 
tongue, he exclaimed: "It shall not be said of me that Sa-go- 
ye-wat-ha lived in insignificance and died in dishonor." A 
grand council of the Six Nations was called, at which the sub- 
ject was fully canvassed. On this occasion he made his last 
public speech, infusing into it much of his ancient dignity 
and grandeur of manner. His triumph was complete. He 
was unanimously restored to his rank as chief of his tribe. 
The charges against Red Jacket may be summed up as 


i. He was ambitious and selfish. True, quite likely, but 
are the great men of the white race exempt from the same 
charge? Does it not form the burden of attacks upon every 
public man? 

2. He was denounced as a pagan in his religion. It is true 
he rigidly adhered to the faith of his fathers. If he was a 
pagan, so was Seneca, the great Roman moralist of the first 
century; so was Cicero; so was Aristides the Just, and so was 
Socrates, with occasional glimpses of a higher faith. 

3. He was an habitual drunkard. True, alas! too true. But 
is that dreadful vice peculiar to the red man? Must we not 
admit that white men first brought the fire-water to him, encour- 
aged him in its use, and supplied the cravings thus created? 
And who among us cannot call to mind innumerable instances 
of men of the highest character and cultivation, filling the 
first positions in every profession and every department of 
life, wrecking themselves, their reputation and their families 
by the indulgence of this frightful vice? Can we not all of us 
call to mind instances of this kind among our own circle 
of dear friends or relatives? Let us then throw the mantle of 
charity and forgetfulness over the frailties and vices, if you 
please, of Red Jacket, and cherish the memory of his great- 
ness, his patriotism and his undying love for his unfortun- 
ate people. 

Since the organization of this Society, efforts have been re- 
peatedly made to obtain an authentic portrait of the great orator. 
There are no portraits of him in early life. A self-taught artist 
at Rochester painted a portrait of him in 1820, which was said 
to be a good one. He always opposed the idea, and would 
say, that when he died, all that appertained to him should die 
also. Still, several portraits were painted of him, but none until 
he had nearly reached his seventieth year. In 182S, when in 
New York, he was persuaded by Dr. Francis to sit for his por- 
trait to R. VV. Weir, then one of the most celebrated painters 
in that city. This is the finest portrait ever painted of him, 


and is regarded as " the standard likeness of the last of the 
Seneca orators." 

The circumstances connected wich this portrait are related 
by Dr. Francis, and are to be found in Stone's Life of Red 
Jacket, page 433. It was in 1828, when, with his interpreter, 
Jemison, he repaired to the studio of Mr. Weir. " For this 
purpose he dressed himself in the costume which he deemed 
most appropriate to his character, decorated with his brilliant 
over-covering and belt, his tomahawk and Washington medal. 
For nearly two hours, on four or five successive days, he was 
as punctual to the arrangements of the artist as any individual 
could be. He had a party of several Senecas with him, who, 
adopting the horizontal position, in different parts of the room, 
regaled themselves with the fumes of tobacco. Red Jacket 
occasionally united in this relaxation, but was so deeply ab- 
sorbed in attention to the work, as to think, perhaps, of no other 
subject. At times he manifested extreme pleasure, as the out- 
lines of the picture were filled up. The drawing of his cos- 
tume, which he seemed to prize as peculiarly appropriate, and 
the distant view of the Falls of Niagara, scenery at no great dis- 
tance from his residence, forced him to an indistinct utterance 
of his satisfaction. When his medal appeared complete in the 
picture, he addressed his interpreter, his words aided by striking 
gestures; and when his noble front was finished, he sprang upon 
his feet with great alacrity, and, seizing the artist by the hand, 
exclaimed with great energy, ' Good! Good!' " 

This portrait is the property of the estate of the late Samuel 
Ward, of New York. Several unsuccessful efforts have been 
made to obtain a copy for this Society. In May last, a gentle- 
man, formerly residing in this city, placed in my hands $500, 
for the purpose of obtaining a copy. Negotiations were entered 
into with the present Mr. Ward for the privilege, which were 
successful, and Mr. Thomas Flicks, an eminent artist in New 
York, was selected to make the copy. 



And now, Mr. President and gentlemen, this copy is before 
you, appropriately framed; and, in the name of Mr. Isaac 
Sherman, of New York, I have the honor of presenting it to 
the Buffalo Historical Society. 

Note. — The Society's record concerning the foregoing address and sub- 
sequent proceedings is as follows: 

"4th. Presentation of the portrait of Red Jacket to the Society, by O. 
G. Steele, Esq., on behalf of the donor, Isaac Sherman, Esq., of New York 
City, accompanied by an interesting sketch of the life and character of the 
great Indian orator, and of the history of the original painting. 

"At the conclusion of Mr. Steele's address, the Hon. Millard Fillmore 
arose and offered the following resolutions, prefacing them with some very 
pertinent and graceful remarks complimentary to Mr. Sherman and the spirit 
which impelled the gift: 

M ' Whereas, Isaac Sherman, Esq., of the City of New York, has, unsolicited, presented 
to this Society, in an appropriate frame, a beautiful and perfect copy of R. W. Weir's cel- 
ebrated portrait of Red Jacket, painted in 1828, and copied by the artist, Thomas Hicks, 
in November, 18:7: Now, therefore, 

"* ' Resolved, That the thanks of this Society are hereby presented to Mr. Sherman for his 
generous and highly priced donation, in which his disinterested liberality is no more con- 
spicuous than his modesty, both of which have conferred upon this Society so valuable a 
gift; which will be preserved, not only, as a likeness of the great Indian orator who lived 
and died among us, but affectionately cherished as a memento of the donor. 

U1 Resolved. That the thanks of this Society are also due to John and Richard R.Ward, 
of New York City, for their kind courtesy in permuting the copy to be taken from the 
original portrait owned by them.' 

" ' Resolved, That the Corresponding Secretary of this Society be directed to transmit a 
copy of these resolutions to Messrs. Sherman and Ward.' " 






Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Buffalo Histor- 
ical Society: 

At the beginning of the present century, this region of 
country had not emerged from its primeval or semi-barbarous 
condition. Our favorite city, whose history we seek to collect 
and to preserve, was but a trading-post of the Indians with the 
few white adventurers who followed their trails to barter 
whisky, powder, etc., for the furs and skins of the animals of 
the forests. Not only the site on which our city now stands, 
and the surrounding country for many miles, but a large por- 
tion of what is now the garden and granary of the State of 

Note. — This paper is the first of several which will be found in the present volume, 
upon the origin and execution of the Fric Canal, and its opening as a world's thorough- 
fare. It is peculiarly fitting that the Buffalo Historical Society should present, in its 
" Publications," the materials for a complete account of that great work. Its prominent 
place in the accomplishment of the Wonderful '* opening up n of this vast and productive 
country, deserves and demands this service from the Muie of History. — Ed. 


New York, was a wilderness, unbroken, save by the Indian 
trail or the bridle-path leading from the towns and settle- 
ments, which had been formed as far up into the interior of 
the State as civilized enterprise had then penetrated: 

And for more than the first decade of years in this century, 
almost the only towns of any note, west of the head-waters of 
the Mohawk River, were the two inland towns of Canandaigua 
and Batavia, established and fostered by the proprietors of 
large landed interests, whose offices were located there for the 
sale of their lands. 

A great tract of country lying west of us, an empire in its 
extent, containing more fertile acres, and more mineral wealth, 
probably, than any other portion of the globe of similar ex- 
tent, where many powerful states and opulent cities have 
since sprung into existence as if by the magician's wand, was 
also unsettled and unexplored; no facilities existed to attract 
the emigrant, or induce a development of its hidden resources 
and wealth. 

The early interior settlements of this State were mainly con- 
fined to the valleys of the streams, and the borders of its small 
lakes; the principal traffic being that carried on from the towns 
bordering upon the tide-waters, with the five nations of Indians 
inhabiting the central and western portions of the State. 

It was soon discovered that this valuable trade, like all com- 
merce, would find its outlet by those water communications 
which led with the most facility and economy to a remunera- 
tive market. Those who engaged in this trade met with much 
competition from those French Canadian traders, who, having 
their headquarters at Quebec and Montreal, found easy water 
communication, by wny of the St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario, 
to the mouth of the Oswego River, and thence into our best 
Indian trading regions — the borders of our small interior lakes. 

At an early day, the necessity began to be felt of providing 
better facilities than were then enjoyed, for carrying on this 
valuable and increasing traffic through our own territorv, to 


our own markets, and of not permitting it to be drawn away 
to enrich foreign commerce and foreign towns, by the easier 
transportation down the Oswego River, Lake Ontario, and the 
St. Lawrence. 

It is probably true, also, as indicated by an early writer on 
the subject, that enterprising agriculturists found, in their 
movements westward from the Hudson River, the quality of 
the soil improved for agricultural pursuits. The improvement 
was said to be of so decided a character, that a comparison at 
every fifty miles distance would clearly establish it, from the 
Hudson to the Genesee, or to the vicinity of Batavia. 

Enterprising and scientific men were led to investigations as 
to the best method of providing such communications between 
the eastern markets and the interior, as would secure to our 
own people the full benefit of their industry, their traffic and 
commerce, and build up our own towns and seaports, instead 
of contributing to the prosperity of our foreign neighbors. 
These investigations, and the improvements to which they 
gave rise, stimulated further investigations and propositions, 
which resulted in measures that brought into existence our 
grand Erie Canal. 

Other countries had constructed canals. The wealth of 
Egypt and of Holland is due in great measure to their numer- 
ous canals. The commerce and manufactures of France and 
of Great Britain are much dependent upon their artificial water 
connections. But all these were works of comparatively short 
extent, and constructed by old and wealthy countries. It was 
reserved for this new but enterprising country, the State of 
New York, to construct a canal of such extent and of such 
character as to cause an empire of wealth and power to spring 
up from a western wilderness; to transform this trading-post 
into our present large city of wealth and refinement; to add 
untold millions to the value of the property and secure the 
prosperity of her people, and to excite the emulation of her 
sister states. 


It should be borne in mind, that at the time of which we are 
writing, the era of what is called the " fast age " had not 
dawned; the science of topography was but little understood, 
and the geography of the country but imperfectly known. 
Franklin had tapped the clouds and bottled the electricity, 
but that subtile element had not been made conducive to the 
conversation of parties with each other, when thousands of 
miles apart. The valuable power of steam was partially 
known, but its adaptation to propel boats even four miles per 
hour, Avas scarcely determined. No Pacific Railway was in an- 
ticipation to transport the enthusiastic traveler across the 
plains and over the Rocky Mountains, from the eastern to the 
western ocean. Even the " Telegraph line " of stages from 
Buffalo to Albany, in forty-eight hours, with six passengers, 
had not been projected: all communications between distant 
places were by the most primitive methods. 

The success of the canal project awakened throughout the 
land a spirit of invention and improvement. Other states 
entered vigorously upon works of similar character, and our 
own people were soon constrained, by the rapid increase of 
travel and traffic, to commence that system of railroad com- 
munications which has grown to such immense proportions 
and become such a necessity. 

But these railroads would not, probably, ever have been at- 
tempted, — no necessity for their existence, or profit from their 
use, would have been foreseen, — had not the people begun to 
realize the benefits predicted by the original projectors of our 
Erie Canal. 

The names of those men who were mainly instrumental in 
the projection, the progress, and the completion of that work, 
deserve an abiding place in our historic records. 

It has been well remarked by a judicious writer* on the sub- 
ject, that it is " in vain to inquire who first thought of connect- 

•Cadwallader D. Coldcn. 


ing these western, northern and southern waters. Could we 
pursue the inquiry with success, it would be a futile labor. 
The discovery would not benefit the community, nor entitle 
the person to whom the original thought might be traced, to 
any more credit than if it were a dream, provided he did noth- 
ing towards procuring action to be taken upon the idea." 

Another writer upon this subject,* after a full investigation, 
concludes that there may very properly be several classes of 
persons who predicted, projected, and carried forward the in- 
ternal improvements of the State. In one class are those who 
predicted the union of the lakes, creeks, and rivers of the West, 
by removing obstructions and otherwise improving the natural 
channels of navigation, and ultimately reaching the ocean; and 
in this class he names Cadwallader Colden, Sir Henry Moore, 
General Washington, George Clinton, and Gouverneur Morris. 
In another class are those who, conceiving the practicability 
of forming a connection between the Hudson River and Lake 
Ontario or Lake Erie, or both, by artificial navigation or 
canals, and the immense benefits that would result therefrom, 
proposed the plan to the- public, and urged its merits upon 
public attention; and in this class are placed Christopher 
Colles, Jeffrey Smith, Elkanah Watson, Philip Schuyler, Jesse 
Hawley, and Joshua Forman. In a third class, who were 
chiefly instrumental in procuring such action by the Legisla- 
ture and the public as resulted in the success of the enterprise, 
are named Thomas Eddy, Jonas Piatt and DeWitt Clinton. 

With a little attention to some historical facts recorded at 
the time of their occurrence, we need not be left in any doubt 
as to whom belongs the credit of the original and the first 
publication of the project of the overland route of the Erie 
Canal from Buffalo to the Hudson River. 

In the year 1724, Cadwallader Colden, Surveyor-General of 
the Province of New York, afterward Lieutenant-Governor, 

Dr. Hosack. 


made and presented to the Captain-General and Governor, 
William Burnett, an elaborate memorial concerning the fur 
trade of the Province, in which he discusses at some length 
the advantages the inhabitants of New York have in carrying 
on this trade, as against our French neighbors in Canada: first, 
by reason of the easier and cheaper importation of goods into 
the port of New York than into Montreal or Quebec; and, 
next, by the facility with which our people may reach the com- 
mon central point of this trade, the Oswego River, by way of 
the Mohawk River, and the stream which runs into Oneida 
Lake, thence down with the current to Lake Ontario; and adds, 
"But besides this passage, there is a river which comes from 
the country of the Senecas, and falls into the Onondaga River, 
by which we have an easy carriage into that country, without 
going to Lake Ontario. The head of this river goes near to 
Lake Erie, and probably may give a very near passage into 
that lake, much more advantageous than the way by the great 
Fall of Niagara." Mr. Colden here refers, evidently, to the 
Seneca River; and though his imperfect acquaintance with the 
geography of the country is apparent, yet there was expressed 
the germ of the "suggestions !' and " projections," which cul- 
minated in our canal, one hundred years afterward. 

In 1 7 68, Sir Henry Moore, Governor of the Province, in a 
message to the Colonial Legislature, called their attention to 
the great delays and expense attending the transport of goods at 
the carrying-places, and asked for legislative aid to remedy the 
evils, which, if not removed, "may divert this commerce into 
such channels as will deprive this colony of every advantage 
which could arise from it." And the Governor recommended 
to the Legislature "the improvement of our inland navigation, 
as a matter of the greatest importance to the Province, — and 
that the obstructions in the navigation of the Mohawk River, 
between Schenectady and Fort Stanwix, be remedied by sluices, 
on the plan of the canal of Languedoc." 

The recommendations were referred to a committee of the 


Legislature, but no efficient action upon them was taken. 

General George Washington had large and comprehensive 
views of the improvements, by opening increased water com- 
munications, of which this country was susceptible; and after 
the close of the Revolutionary War, in July and August 1783, 
he made a tour through the central part of our State, as far 
west as Fort Schuyler (now Rome), where he crossed over to 
Wood Creek. He then traversed the country to the head 
waters of the Susquehanna, and examined Lake Otsego and 
the portage connecting it with the Mohawk at Canajoharie; 
and he expressed himself as "struck with the immense extent 
and importance of the vast inland navigation of the Uni;ed 
States, and of the goodness of that Providence which has 
dealt favors to us with so liberal a hand." "Would to God," 
says he, "that we may have wisdom to improve them." 

In 1784, he traveled to Pittsburg in Pennsylvania; and his 
views of the probable increase of the trade and commerce of 
the country, and the efforts that would be made to attract it 
down the Mississippi, and down the St. Lawrence, and of the 
importance of leading that commerce to our own seaboard, are 
those of a sagacious and comprehensive mind. 

Christopher Colles, a native of Ireland, but residing in the 
City of New York, who had, before the Revolutionary War, 
proposed a plan for supplying that city with good water, was 
the first person who suggested to the government of the State, 
the canals and improvements on the Ontario route. In the 
year 1784, Mr. Colles presented a memorial to the Legislature, 
asking for aid and authority for removing the obstructions in 
the Mohawk River, etc. Some action was taken upon it, but 
not such as to enable Mr. Colles to proceed. He presented 
another memorial at the next session of the Legislature, setting 
forth the practicability of the measure, and the benefits to re- 
sult from it; and that body appropriated one hundred and 
twenty-five dollars, to enable him to make a survey, and ex- 
hibit a plan thereof to the Legislature at its next meeting. 


According to this action, Mr. Colles visited the country, sur- 
veyed the Mohawk and Wood Creek, and made a report thereon 
to the next Legislature, a committee of which reported favor- 
ably upon his plans; but nothing further grew out of the effort. 

In March, 1786, Jeffrey Smith, a member of the Assembly 
from Long Island, asked and obtained leave to bring in a bill, 
entitled, "An Act for improving the navigation of the Mohawk 
River, Wood Creek and the Onondaga River, with a view of 
opening an inland navigation to Oswego, and for extending 
the same, if practicable, to Lake Erie." 

Mr. Smith brought in the bill on the seventeenth of March; 
which was read once, and ordered to a second reading. It 
was discussed on the twenty-fifth and twenty-ninth of March, 
and on the fourth and fifth of April; but the session termin- 
ated without any final action on the project. 

George Clinton, the first Governor of the State, in his An- 
nual Message to the Legislature in January, 1791, took a com- 
prehensive view of the importance of improving the Hudson 
and Mohawk rivers, and Wood Creek, and recommended the 
subject to their favorable attention; the result of which was to 
cause surveys and estimates to be made for the improvement 
between the Mohawk River and Wood Creek. A favorable 
report was made, and at the session of 1792, Governor Clinton 
again earnestly recommended the measure; and the legislative 
action at that session resulted in the passage of the "Act for 
establishing and opening lock navigation within the State," 
the declared intent of which was, to open "a lock navigation 
from the navigable part of Hudson River, to be extended to the 
Seneca Lake and to Lake Ontario." 

General Philip Schuyler, whose services in the Revolution- 
ary War gave him full knowledge of the country, with great 
sagacity gave his attention to the subject of internal improve- 
ments, and was instrumental in procuring the incorporation of 
the " Western Inland Lock Navigation Company," in 1792, of 
which he was the President. The object of this Company was 


to improve and extend water communication by the Mohawk 
River, Wood Creek, and Oneida Lake and River, to Oswego. 
They subsequently took measures to extend their navigation 
into the interior as far west as Seneca Lake; and in a tour of 
explorations, by General Schuyler and their celebrated en- 
gineer, William Weston, an Englishman, in 1797 "they talked 
of water communications by means of canals, as far as Lake 
Erie, keeping the interior, provided the face of the country- 
would admit of it; but they considered the period remote when 
it could be done, and their whole views were continued toward 
perfecting the navigation from the Hudson to the Seneca Lake, 
and to Oswego." 

Elkanah Watson, a man of ingenious and speculative mind, 
who had derived favorable opinions of canals from his travels 
in England and on the continent of Europe, made an explora- 
tion as far west as Fort Stanwix, in 1788, and again in 1791, 
as far as Geneva; and by his earnest efforts, in connection with 
General Schuyler, was instrumental in procuring the incorpor- 
ation of the Inland Lock Navigation Company, and in the 
efforts of that Company to extend its operations to Seneca 
Lake and Oswego. Mr. Watson's interest in these improve- 
ments, and his efforts in their behalf, were valuable and long 
continued, and his associates were men of the most prominence 
in that connection. Speaking of his own views and those of 
his fellow-laborers, Mr. Watson says, in 1S20: "The utmost 
stretch of our views was to follow the track of Nature's canal. 
We never entertained the most distant conception of a canal 
from Lake Erie to the Hudson." 

Connected with the improvements of the navigation to Os- 
wego on Lake Ontario, was the passage by the Legislature, in 
1798, of the Act incorporating the Niagara Company, for the 
purpose of making a canal, with locks, around the Niagara 
Falls, and thus complete the communication between the Hud- 
son River, Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. This project, how- 
ever, was not carried into execution. 


Gouverneur Morris was a man of a brilliant, romantic mind, 
whose advantages had been improved by extensive travel in 
Europe, and by a residence, as Representative of his country, 
at the Court of France. He had a vivid imagination and an 
ardent temperament, and in his public and private intercourse 
frequently used new and bold expressions, which, at the time, 
were regarded as visionary and ambiguous; some of which 
have since been claimed by his friends as the "first sugges- 
tions" of the Erie Canal; although Cadwallader Colden sug- 
gested the idea in 1724, and General Schuyler, also, in 1797. 

Governor Morgan Lewis, in a letter to Hermanus Bleecker, 
in 1828, relates that, being with General Schuyler at Fort Ed- 
ward, during the Revolutionary War, Mr. Morris arrived at 
their headquarters on a mission connected with the general 
safety, and, remaining several days, often amused them by 
descanting with energy on what he termed "the lising glories 
of the western world;" and one evening declared, in language 
highly poetic, "that at no very distant day the waters of the 
western inland seas would, by the aid of man, break through 
their barriers and mingle with the Hudson." In answer to a 
question as to how those waters would break through their 
barriers, Mr. Morris replied, that "numerous streams passed 
them, through natural channels, and artificial ones might be 
conducted by the same routes." Whether Mr. Morris, by the 
term "inland seas," had in mind any other than the interior 
lakes of the State, does not appear. 

In the summer df iSco, Mr. Morris made an excursion to 
Niagara Falls and Fort Erie, " by way," as he says, "of Albany, 
the lakes George and Champlain to Montreal, thence up the 
St. Lawrence to Lake Ontario, and along the south side of that 
lake to Niagara; thence by land to Lake Erie, and so back 
again." He adds: " Proceeding from the' Falls toward Lake 
Erie, the contrast is complete — a quiet, gentle stream laves the 
shores of a country level and fertile. Along the banks of this 
stream we proceed to Fort Erie." 


It appears that this visit was to the Canadian side of the Ni- 
agara River, and that Mr. Morris returned by the same route. 
His description of that excursion, in his letter written from 
Washington, in December, 1800, to his friend, John Parish, of 
Hamburgh, in Germany, is a splendid specimen of romantic 
writing, in which the main statements are more real than ficti- 
tious. Speaking of Fort Erie, he says: "Here, as in turning 
a point of wood, the lake broke in on my view, I saw, riding 
at anchor, nine vessels, the least of them of one hundred tons. 
Does it not seem like magic? At this point commences a navi- 
gation of more than a thousand miles. Hundreds of large 
ships will at no distant period bound on the billows of those 
inland seas. * * * * One-tenth of the expense borne by 
Britain in the last campaign would enable ships to sail from 
London, through Hudson's River into Lake Erie. * * * * 
The proudest empire in Europe is but a bauble, compared to 
what America will be, 7?iust be, in the course of two centuries, 
perhaps of one." 

Mr. Morris does not state by what route ships might be en- 
abled to sail through Hudson's River into Lake Erie. Judging 
by the route of his travels, his intimate acquaintance with the 
navigation from the Hudson River to Lake Ontario, the recent 
incorporation of the Niagara Company for the purpose of con- 
structing a ship canal around Niagara Falls, and by the lan- 
guage he uses, it is fair to presume that the route, in his mind, 
was that by way of Lake Ontario. 

The author of the pamphlet entitled, "Facts and Observa- 
tions in relation to the origin and completion of the Erie 
Canal," claims for Mr. Morris the credit of giving origin to it, 
and says: "In the year 1800 he made a visit to the Falls of 
Niagara and Lake Erie, and first conceived the gigantic plan 
of bringing the waters of Lake Erie into the Hudson. 

Simeon DeYVitt, for a long time the Surveyor-General of the 
State, writing, in 1S22, to William Darby, expresses himself as 
follows: "The merit of first starting the idea of a direct com- 


munication by water between LakeJErie and the Hudson River, 
unquestionably belongs to Gouverneur Morris. The first sug- 
gestion I had of it was from him. It was in 1803; we put up 
for the night at the same inn in Schenectady. Among the top- 
ics of conversation was that of improving the means of inter- 
course with the interior of our State," and, "he then mentioned 
the project of tapping Lake Erie and leading its waters in an 
artificial river, directly across the country, to the Hudson." 
Mr. DeWitt adds that he considered the thing romantic, and 
as such, related it on several occasions, and says: " Mr. Ged- 
des now reminds me that I mentioned it to him in 1804; and 
afterward, when in company with Jesse Hawley, it became a 
subject of conversation, which probably led to inquiries that 
induced Mr. Hawley to write the essays, which afterward ap- 
peared in the newspapers, on the subject." 

James Geddes, writing in 1829, says: "I never had the idea 
cross my mind of a canal over the country to Lake Erie, till I 
received it from the Surveyor-General, in 1804, as communi- 
cated to him by Mr. Morris;" and says, "I have the most per- 
fect recollection of time and place when I informed Mr. Jesse 
Hawley of the project, and have no doubt but that I informed 
him the idea came from Mr. Morris. It was at Geneva, the 
winter before he wrote his essays." 

Charles C. Brodhead and Judge Benjamin Wright, survey- 
ors and engineers of the time, and Thomas Eddy, the Treas- 
urer of and an active Director in the Western Inland Lock Navi- 
gation Company, were much engaged in the surveys and plans 
for internal improvements cotemporaneous with Gouverneur 
Morris; and may be supposed to have been informed of the 
views of prominent men of their day, upon a matter of such 
general importance, so far <is such views were made public. 
Mr. Brodhead, writing in February, 1S29, after alluding to a re- 
quest made to him for information in respect to conversations 
between Mr. Morris and himself in regard to improvements, 
says: "I will give you a brief statement of what I consider to 


be the facts in regard to Mr. Morris' views, as conveyed to 
me. In the year 1802 or 1803 I met Mr. Morris at Rome, and 
had a conversation with him on the subject of canals. He had 
just ascended the Mohawk in a boat, on a tour to the St. Law- 
rence by the way of Oswego; and he inquired very particularly 
of me as to the situation and soil of the land along the Oneida 
Lake, and the banks of the Oneida and Oswego rivers, and the 
country lying between the Oneida and Ontario lakes. I do not 
recollect that Lake Erie was mentioned in this conversation, 
and it is my opinion that it was not. After I had answered Mr. 
Morris' inquiries, he expressed much anxiety for a canal from 
the Hudson River to Lake Ontario. 

Benjamin Wright says, writing in 1829: " Relative to the 
early views and suggestions of Gouverneur Morris in regard 
to the improvements by water communications, reported at 
the time the conversations or observations were made by him, 
about the year 1800, and soon after that period, they all tend 
to show that Mr. Morris looked only to canaling along the val- 
leys of the natural water courses to Lake Ontario, and thence 
connecting Lake Ontario and Lake Erie by improvements 
around Niagara Falls, as contemplated by the Act of 1798." 
And Judge Wright adds: " I am confident Mr. Morris had no 
local knowledge of the formation of the country through the 
interior at that day; neither do I believe he gained any knowl- 
edge of the peculiar formation of that part of the State, until 
after the surveys made by direction of the State in 1808 and 
1809. * * * * After Mr. Morris visited the country as 
Canal Commissioner in 1810, he took a different view of the 
whole subject." 

In January, 1801, General Lee wrote to Mr. Morris, saying: 
" In our late conversation I could not but be impressed with 
your observations on the policy of opening a convenient access 
to the Atlantic from the lakes. Will you do me the favor to 
commit to paper your ideas in full ?" To this Mr. Morris 
replied six days afterward; and, after acknowledging the receipt 


of General Lee's letter, and some general remarks upon im- 
provements, their political influences, etc., be says: "As far 
as I can judge from observation and information, the commun- 
ication between Lake Ontario and the Hudson is not only 
practicable, but easy, though expensive." 

Thomas Eddy says, in 1826: "It should be well observed 
that Mr. Morris only contemplates the practicability of a com- 
munication from Lake Ontario to the Hudson, — not a word of 
one continued canal from Lake Erie to the Hudson;" — and 
Mr. Eddy continues:. " Mr. Morris' talents were brilliant, he 
had seen much of the world; with all his greatness of mind, 
he was at times visionary. He was not a practical man; he 
ultimately disagreed with the most of the Board of Commis- 
sioners first appointed, causing them to act without him." 

"Tacitus," the author of the work entitled, "The Canal Policy 
of the State of New York," says: "At what time this channel 
of communication was first orally suggested, or by whom, it is 
impossible now to ascertain. The letters published to show 
that Gouverneur Morris entertained this project as far back as 
1800 and 1801, prove directly the reverse. In his correspon- 
dence with General Lee, on being asked for a full development 
of his views, he is wholly silent as to the Erie communication." 

Doctor Hosack, who has investigated this subject more fully 
than any other writer, remarks thus: " Entering upon the sub- 
ject of the claims of the late Gouverneur Morris, to the honor 
of projecting the system of canal navigation which has been 
adopted by the State of New York, I freely confess that the 
first impressions upon my mind were the same with those of 
many who have ascribed to him the credit of having been the 
first to suggest the interior route, by a direct canal from the 
Hudson to Lake Erie, as the means of connecting the lakes 
with the ocean;" — and Doctor Hosack says, that a debt of 
gratitude which he owes to Mr. Morris, for many years of friend- 
ship and hospitality, impels him to do justice to his memory. 

At the close of an elaborate investigation, Doctor Hosack 


again remarks: " Such are the statements I have been enabled 
to obtain relative to the claims of Mr. Morris. I should have 
been gratified to have found less equivocal evidence of the 
originality of his suggestions of the course to Lake Erie by the 
interior route." 

Jesse Hawley claims " the original and the first publication 
of a project for the overland route of the Erie Canal, from 
Buffalo to the Hudson," and that, " in it, he was a benefactor 
to the public in general, and to the State of New York in par- 

Mr. Hawley was born in the State of Connecticut, in 1773. 
He was of a studious, penetrating mind, having great regard to 
utility in all his investigations, political economy being a favor- 
ite subject with him. 

His advantages for cultivation were such only as were afforded 
by the common schools at that period. Soon after 1800, 
his father's family removed to one of the eastern counties of 
this State, and Mr. Hawley, with a view of seeing what was 
then the western country, and of making a mark for himself, be- 
came engaged in business at Geneva, about the year 1804. 

Mr. Hawley, writing in 1828, says: " In April, 1805, being 
in business at Geneva and concerned in forwarding Hour from 
Mynderse's Mills, owing to the very imperfect navigation of 
the old Mohawk Canal, and various methods being proposed 
for improving it, I suggested the idea of an overland canal from 
the foot of Lake Erie at Buffalo, as containing a head and great 
reservoir of water to feed it, to -Utica, and down the Mohawk 
to Hudson River. The impediments to navigation would often 
call forth expressions of a wish that an arm of the North River 
had been extended into the Genesee country, for our facilities 
of transport. No one had yet suggested the idea of effecting 
this object by a canal! I occasionally mentioned my sugges- 
tion to my friends, and was generally laughed at for my whim." 

He continues: "Being fully satisfied of the practicability of 
such a canal, I thought it would be doing a service to society 


to give it publicity, and I commenced writing on the subject; 
and my essays, fourteen in number, were afterward published 
in the Genesee Messenger, a newspaper then printed in Can- 
andaigua. I never heard that Mr. Morris made any claim to 
the original idea of the overland route, and I believe Mr. Morris, 
if alive, would say for himself, that his idea was the lake route, 
and the locking up Niagara Falls into Lake Erie." Mr. Haw- 
ley adds, " I have said more than the subject strictly required, 
wishing to correct an error that some person has fallen into, 
contained in Mr. DeWitt's letter, in which Judge Geddes is 
made to say that his communication to me of Mr. Morris' idea 
of tapping Lake Erie, was the origin of the subject in my mind, 
and which induced me to write my essays. I saw Judge 
Geddes in 1804. I saw him again at Geneva in the winter of 
1806, visiting his relatives, with whom I boarded. This was 
about ten months after I had suggested the idea of the over- 
land canal. I saw him again at his home in Onondaga, in 1S11, 
after he had surveyed a part of the route under the direction 
of the first Commissioners, when we conversed on the subject 
for the first time. I do not think any mention of the canal 
was made between us, when we met at Geneva; if there was, 
I must have first spoken of it. I did not hear that Mr. Morris 
had written on the canal, until several years after I had writ- 
ten, and the work was commenced. There was no writer on 
the idea of tapping Lake Erie, or the overland route for the 
canal, publicly known in Ontario, at the time I wrote my es-ays. 
The ridicule of the day, on the subject, sufficiently proves that; 
for had any been known, they would have been brought for- 
ward against my claims to originality of the measure. I had 
no better access to the private writings of other gentlemen than 
the public possessed. My writings were public, without ob- 
scurity, and I knew of no competitor with me for the reputa- 
tion of both the conception and publication oi the idea of the 
overland route, until after the work on the canal was com- 
menced and became popular; then it was, the epistolary writ- 


ings of Messrs. Watson, Morris, and others, were drawn from 
their private archives, and made to claim rank of their primi- 
tive dates. Mr. Clinton assigned to me the original idea of 
the canal; and in his letter to me of March 4, 1822, he says, 
'The first suggestion I had of a canal from Lake Erie to the 
Hudson River, was in the essays signed " Hercules," published 
in the Genesee Messenger, in fourteen numbers, commencing in 
October, 1807. The Board of Canal Commissioners, which 
made the first tour of observation and survey, in 1810, had 
those writings with them, which were duly appreciated as the 
work of a sagacious and elevated mind: and you were consid- 
ered the author.' " 

" Tacitus " writes: " The first hint on the subject of a direct 
overland canal, that I have seen, was suggested by Jesse Haw- 
ley, in the essays signed ' Hercules,' published in Canandaigua." 

Doctor Hosack says: " The essays of Mr. Hawley, published 
in 1807, signed ' Hercules,' appear to have been the first pub- 
lication of the plan of a direct overland communication from 
Lake Erie to the Hudson, and were found highly useful by the 
first Board of Commissioners — as they publicly acknowledged — 
when, in 18 10, they were exploring the route which Mr. Haw- 
ley designated, and which has been adopted as the course of 
the canal. They cannot fail to illustrate the well established 
claims of the author to the originality of the views they devel- 
ope. When it is considered that these essays of Mr. Hawley's 
point out the track of the canal nearly corresponding with its 
present route, urge the propriety of an immediate survey, and 
estimate the expense with wonderful accuracy, as has since been 
ascertained, it is surprising, amidst the numerous publications 
on this subject, that Mr. Watson and Mr. Colden are the only 
persons who have rendered that justice to Mr. Hawley which 
his merits and services claim from this State." 

The writer of these pages well remembers, when a boy, hear- 
ing Mr. Hawley relate the incident of his first suggesting the 
idea of the overland canal. He was at Colonel Mynderse's 


office in 1805, attending to the shipment of some flour to mar- 
ket, by the circuitous and uncertain route then in use. Him- 
self and Colonel Mynderse conversing upon the necessities for 
better facilities, Mr. Hawley said, " Why not have a canal ex- 
tend direct into our country, and benefit all — merchants, mil- 
lers, and farmers?" To which Colonel Mynderse promptly re- 
plied, that it could not be done, for the lack of a head of water. 
As the head of water was so essential to the idea, Mr. Hawley 
felt somewhat chagrined at first, that he should have made such 
a blunder; but, stepping to an old map of the State, which hung 
on the office wall, he put his finger on the point where they 
were located, and tracing along on the map to Niagara Falls, 
and to Lake Erie, said, " There is the head, there is the supply 
of water." 

The idea, thus brought out, being treated as visionary, Mr. 
Hawley was stimulated to examine it, and he became more 
convinced of its practicability the more he investigated it, al- 
though, as he became earnest upon the subject, his friends rid- 
iculed the idea as visionary or chimerical; and, after publishing 
one or two of the essays, the printer objected to inserting any 
more, as the ridicule they received was liable to injure the char- 
acter and circulation of his paper. . 

The printer was, however, prevailed upon to go on with them, 
and the fourteen essays were published, of which I proceed to 
give a brief synopsis. * 

A change having occurred in Mr. Hawley's business, he spent 
the winter of 1806-7 m Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and not know- 
ing when he would return to Ontario County, he sketched 
the first essay, and to preserve it from oblivion, as he said, he 
procured it to be published there, on the fourteenth day of 
January, 1S07, in the newspaper called the Commonwealth. 

That essay opens with some approving allusion to the rn- 

* These remarkable essays are published at length in Doctor Hosack's Memoirs of 
De Witt CHu ton. The reader of them at the present day will perceive evidence of the 
originality of the views they promulgate, with the author of them. 


genuity and patriotism of President Jefferson, who, in his second 
Inaugural Speech, March, 1805, promulgated the idea of appro- 
priating the surplus revenues of the United States to the im- 
provement of canals, roads, etc., and saying that it appears by 
the President's last message, December, 1806, that there is a 
greater surplus of revenue than was anticipated when the terms 
were made, for the payment of the national debt. He assumes 
that the President himself will agree that one of the first objects 
of utility is the improvement of the navigation of our fresh 
waters; and he continues, "I will presume to suggest to the 
President, with all due deference, that improvement which 
would afford the most immediate and extensive advantages of 
any which can be undertaken in the United States. It is, con- 
necting the waters of Lake Erie and those of Mohawk and 
Hudson rivers by means of a canal;" and then says, "As this 
project is probably not more than twelve months old in human 
conception, but imperfect data can be furnished at present: 
such as I have I will add: The canal ought to commence at 
the foot of Lake Erie, as near as a suitable place can be found 
to afford a draft on its waters, and run nearly parallel to the 
Niagara River, for some miles; thence winding easterly and 
crossing the Tonavvanta, perhaps a few miles from its mouth; 
thence nearly due east, preserving the height of the limestone 
ridge, and crossing the Genesee River, by an acqueduct, above 
its upper falls; thence running near to and probably into the 
west branch of Mud Creek, pursuing its channel into and down 
the Seneca River to the head of Jack's Rifts; thence leaving 
that river to the north, run along the foot of the hills and high 
grounds of Onondaga and Oneida counties, going south of 
their lakes, unite with the Mohawk, near Utica. * * * * 
The distance from Buffalo Village to Utica, by the present roads, 
is two hundred and two miles; it is possible that the angles of 
the roads are equal to the necessary meandering of the canal 
through so level a country." He then goes into a lengthy and 
ingenious investigation of the difference of elevation between 


the waters of Lake Erie and those of the Mohawk River at 
Utica; and arrives at the conclusion that the fall is four hun- 
dred and ten feet, averaging about two feet to the mile. He 
says, "This crude calculation is intended merely to show the 
practicability of the undertaking. * * * * When com- 
pleted, this canal would open one thousand six hundred and 
sixty miles of inland navigation, from New York to Chicago 
River, which might be continued, by portage, into and down 
the Illinois, and up the Mississippi into almost unknown re- 
gions. *.,,* * * The trade and commerce from four of 
the largest lakes known in the world, with all their tributary 
streams, and surrounding country, would pass through this 
canal; artd the fifth lake (Ontario) would become its tributary; 
and the additional duty on the trade from Canada, would alone 
defray the annual repairs of the canal." 

Returning to Ontario County in the summer of 1807, Mr. 
Hawley wrote more fully upon this and kindred subjects, his 
writings extending to fourteen numbers, with the same signa- 
ture, " Hercules," as the first; and were published in the Gene- 
see Messenger, a newspaper printed at Canandaigua. 

They commenced in October, 1807, and were completed in 
April, 1808, some of the intermediate time being consumed in 
efforts to convince the proprietor of the newspaper that the print- 
ing of the essays would not damage its character and circulation. 

In the opening essay, Mr. Hawley adverts to the vast extent 
of our territory, its variety of soil and climate, the richness of 
its animal and mineral kingdoms, and its facilities for inter- 
communication; and also to our inestimable improvement in 
the science of government; having refined that down, as he 
says, to its elementary principles, contrasting our country, its 
fertility and natural resources, and our people, with the most 
learned people and the wealthiest countries of Europe, he 
gives a glowing picture of the prosperity and greatness which 
are in store for us, if we but improve the facilities placed be- 
fore us by the Creator. 


In the next number he points out the route, distance and levels, 
a little more in detail, but substantially the same as set forth in 
the preliminary essay, published at Pittsburg, which has already 
been given, and of course need not be repeated here. Mr. Haw- 
ley considers that the navigation of the Mohawk River by per- 
fecting the improvements then in use, or a canal immediately 
contiguous thereto, throughout its valley, must be adopted; 
and therefore does not point out in detail that portion of the 
line, thinking either method is entirely feasible, and having in 
view an economy of expenditure, until the revenues of the 
canal should provide a fund for further improvements. 

In numbers three and four, he goes into a long and ingen- 
ious calculation of the success with which various European 
canals have fulfilled the designs of their projectors, based upon 
their width, depth, etc., such as the canal of Languedoc, the 
canal of Clyde, of Kiel, etc., and comes to the conclusion, and 
recommends, one hundred feet wide and ten feet deep, as the 
best size to construct the Erie Canal, and also says: " How far 
steamboats can be adapted to the canal, so as to supersede 
theuse of the towing-path, time and experiment have yet to 

In the fifth number, Mr. Hawley makes a minute calculation 
of the cost of the various European canals named, and assum- 
ing the Erie Canal, from Lake Erie to Utica, to require twen- 
ty-six locks, and estimating the difference in value of labor, of 
material, and of American ingenuity, with some allowance for 
our lack of experience, he comes to the conclusion that the 
canal which he has pointed out, from Lake Erie to the Mo- 
hawk, near Utica, one hundred feet wide and ten feet deep, 
" would cost something more than $5,000,000, — to put it in 
round numbers, say $6,000,000." 

He next devotes two or three numbers to showing the com- 
mercial utility and general benefits to the country of such a 
canal; how it would enhance the value of many millions of 
acres of land in this State; how it would stimulate emigration, 


and the settlement and cultivation of the new lands in the 
western country; how the trade of almost all North America 
would center at New York for its common mart; how the har- 
bor of Buffalo would exchange her forest trees for a thicket of 
masts; and in his estimates of the benefits to particular inter- 
ests, makes out the enhanced profits on the single article of 
potash, in the belt of country fifty miles wide along the Amer- 
ican shores of our lakes, from the foot of Lake Erie to the head 
of Lake Michigan, to be $20,800,000; and he remarks, "Such 
is the interest the people will have in the canal, they cannot 
long slumber over the project. No situation on the globe offers 
such extensive and numerous advantages to inland navigation 
by a canal as this." 

Mr. Hawley next devotes two numbers to discussing the 
question of the resources of capital for the performance of such 
a work, and he goes so fully into all the phases of the questions 
of ability, of expediency, and of political economy, as con- 
nected with the subject, that it is difficult to do him justice in 
any synopsis of his views. He concludes that the means re- 
quired are beyond the reach of individual capital; the calling 
of foreign capitalists to our aid is, in his opinion, highly excep- 
tionable, as it would render the commerce of the canal subject 
to foreign dictation; and he opposes the liberal toleration by 
our government to foreign capital being invested in our lands, 
stocks, etc., unless our government holds in reserve the idea of 
the sequestration of foreign property in our country, as the 
dernier resort for the redress of foreign spoliations on our 
commerce; and he thinks we can with confidence turn our at- 
tention to our patriotic government with a productive revenue, 
as the source of capital competent to the completion of this 
work of improvement. 

Having placed his reliance for financial resources upon the 
United States government, Mr. Hawley devotes the remaining 
numbers to pointing out many other improvements, in various 
other States, some of which have since been accomplished, — 


most of which would be tributary to the prosperity of our own 
State, and greatly promote the interests of the localities where 
made, and of the nation at large. He expresses full reliance 
upon American genius and enterprise to surmount many of the 
difficulties in the way of the proposed undertakings, and con- 
cludes that New York is destined to be the brightest star in the 
American galaxy. Time will permit the mention of but few of 
the improvements he thus points out. 

The Champlain canal is recommended as a valuable im- 
provement, by canaling from Waterford to Fort Edward, and 
thence to Skeensborough or the head of South Bay; the distance 
being about forty miles. 

"Turning our attention to the westward," he says, "an im- 
mense field opens to our view. The straits of St. Marie might 
be improved by sinking its rapids, or by locking, so as to com- 
plete navigation into Lake Superior. The connection of the 
Fox and the Wisconsin rivers by a canal a few miles long, at 
the portage between the rivers, would open communication be- 
tween Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River, one thousand 
one hundred and fifty miles from its mouth. Another impor- 
tant connection of Lake Michigan with the Mississippi River 
can be made, by a canal from ten to twenty miles long, between 
the Chicago River and a branch of the Illinois River. The 
evenness of the land gives a certainty to its feasibility, and the 
canal should be of equal dimensions with the Erie Canal. 

"To render the navigation from Buffalo to the Mississipi, by 
the Illinois River, of the greatest value, another improvement 
will become essential — a canal between Lake Erie and Lake 
Michigan, at their heads. The course of the interior streams, 
running westwardly, may seem to preclude this idea, but as 
Lake Michigan discharges its waters through Huron into Lake 
Erie, the project seems feasible. 

"Valuable improvements by canals could be made in Ohio, 
by opening a way from Lake Erie to the Ohio River, and be- 
tween the Miami of the lakes (the Maumee) and the Wabash. 

250 * ORIGIN OF 

"To have a water passage opened between the Hudson and 
the Delaware rivers, through the State of New Jersey, would 
be a desideratum to the United States, as continuing the chain 
of inland navigation, coastwise, from South Carolina to Long 
Island Sound; which would be of essential service to commerce 
in time of war." 

In number twelve, Mr. Hawley points out some valuable 
improvements that may be easily made, connecting the waters 
of the Susquehanna, the Potomac, and the Patapsco rivers, 
with the Chesapeake Bay; showing at length what improve- 
ments Maryland and Virginia can make, to secure control of a 
large portion of the trade of the West; and arguing that New 
York must be active and vigilant in constructing the overland 
canal, if she would secure the growing western trade. 

He then points out various other improvements; among them 
the Dismal Swamp Canal, the canal around the rapids in the 
Ohio River, near Louisville, which, he says, " ought to be 
twenty feet deep; and a direct continuous navigation between 
Mobile and the Ohio River, by way of the Tombigbee River, 
Bear Creek and the Tennessee River, requiring but fifty miles 
of canal;" and he founds an argument in favor of our national 
government purchasing the Floridas, on the importance of 
possessing jurisdiction over the mouths of some of the rivers 
that flow into the Gulf of Mexico. 

Mr Hawley thus puts himself on record unequivocally, at an 
early day, in regard to our Grand Canal, and the benefits that 
would result from it. How fully and rapidly those predictions 
have been verified, we will not now stop to discuss. We may 
imagine, however, that if two of his projections, yet unaccom- 
plished, had been carried out, — that of a communication from 
the head of Lake Erie to the head of Lake Michigan, and the 
large size of one hundred feet by ten of the Erie Canal, — we 
should not now have interested parties in other localities be- 
sieging our halls of legislation for aid to construct a Niagara 
Ship Canal. 


In 1809, General Micah Brooks, a member of Assembly from 
Ontario County, borrowed the essays of Mr. Hawley, and took 
them to Albany; but nothing was done in reference to the canal 
by the Legislature of that session, and he left them with Mr. 
DeWitt, the Surveyor-General, to investigate the subject. 

An incident in the life of Mr. Hawley, though not directly 
connected with the canal, has a local interest, and exemplifies 
some of his characteristics. When, in the year 1821, the County 
of Niagara was divided, the new one, though retaining the old 
name, required to have its county-seat determined, and the 
Legislature appointed as Commissioners for that purpose, 
Erastus Root, of Delaware County, Jesse Hawley, of Monroe, 
and William Brittin, of Cayuga. Mr. Brittin died before the 
Commissioners had performed the duties assigned to them. 
The other two made their examinations throughout the county, 
and disagreed in their conclusions, General Root being in favor 
of Lewiston, and Mr. Hawley, of Lockport. 

In 1822, Messrs. Root and Hawley having resigned, the 
Legislature appointed as Commissioners for the same purpose, 
Abraham Keyser, Jr., of Schoharie, Junius H. Hatch, of New 
York (now of Black Rock), and James McKown, of Albany. 
These Commissioners made their examinations, and, coincid- 
ing unanimously with Mr. Hawley, fixed the county-seat at 

Joshua Forman was a member of the Assembly from Onon- 
daga County, in 1808. His room-mates were Judge Wright 
and General McNiel, of Oneida County. Canals and other 
methods of internal improvements were prominent topics of 
conversation between them. Judge Forman introduced a res- 
olution, which Judge Wright seconded, " That a joint com- 
mittee be appointed to consider the propriety of exploring and 
surveying the most eligible and direct route for a canal be- 
tween Hudson River and Lake P>ie, to the end that Congress 
may be enabled to appropriate such sum as may be necessary 
to the accomplishment of the object." In Judge Forman's 


argument in support of his motion, he pointed out substan- 
tially the same route for the canal, in the western part of the 
State, as had been previously designated in the " Hercules " 
papers of Mr. Hawley. The resolution passed, and the joint 
committee reported a resolution, which was adopted, " direct- 
ing the Surveyor-General to cause a survey to be made of the 
rivers, streams, and waters in the usual route between the Hud- 
son River and Lake Erie, and such other route as he may deem 
proper," and appropriating six hundred dollars for the purpose- 
and, as Judge Forman says, " So intent was the Surveyor- 
General on going through Lake Ontario, that he expended 
most of the money in exploring routes in that direction." 
1 Judge Geddes was employed to make the surveys, which 
he did, according to his instructions, on the Ontario route, and 
the Niagara River, and then took levelings " from Genesee 
River to the head waters of Mud Creek;" and he became con- 
fident of the practicability of the canal, and made a full report 
of his doings and his conclusions to the Surveyor-General, who 
laid it before the Legislature at their session in 1809. 

The Surveyor-General also opened a correspondence with 
Joseph Ellicott, of Batavia, agent of the Holland Land Com- 
pany, from whom he obtained valuable information, descrip- 
tive of the country between the Niagara and Genesee rivers, 
with an explanatory map.* 

Nothing further was done, until the winter of 1S10, when 
Thomas Eddy, Jonas Piatt, and DeYVitt Clinton (the two latter 
being members of the Senate) were instrumental in procuring 
the appointment, by a joint resolution of both Houses, of 
seven Commissioners, viz., Gouverneur Morris, Stephen Van 
Rensselaer, DeWitt Clinton, Simeon DeWitt, William North, 
Thomas Eddy, and Peter B. Porter, to explore the whole route 
from the Hudson to Lake Ontario and to Lake Erie, and to 
report their action, with their own conclusions, to the next 

* Mr. Ellicott's communication was dated July 30. 1S08. 


Legislature; and three thousand dollars were appropriated to 
defray the expense. 

These Commissioners entered upon their duties on the first 
of July, 1810, the Surveyor-General having employed Mr. 
Geddes to attend them as engineer, and the Commissioners 
having with them the essays of Mr. Hawley, published in 1807 
and 1808, the report of Mr. Geddes' surveys in 1808, and the 
communication and map received from Joseph Ellicott. 

The Commissioners fulfilled their mission with skill and 
assiduity, and in their report to the next Legislature, they 
recommend the overland route to Lake Erie, as being practi- 
cable and beneficial, and that measures be taken for its accom- 

Early in the winter of 1810, Mr. Pope, a Senator in Con- 
gress, from Kentucky, introduced into that body a bill for 
improving our nation by facilitating intercourse between its 
parts; which bill contemplated many of the improvements 
which Mr. Hawley had previously pointed out, and in substan- 
tially the same manner, except that he proposed the Ontario 
and Niagara route between the Hudson and Lake Erie. 

Mr. Pope's bill not having been acted upon in the Senate, 
General Peter B. Porter, a member of the House of Repre- 
sentatives from this State, introduced into the House, on the 
eighth of February, 1S10, a preliminary resolution, which led 
to the reporting of a bill, on the twenty-third, by a committee of 
twenty, of which General Porter was chairman, " For the im- 
provement of the United States by roads and canals," which 
provided, among other improvements, for "opening canals from 
the Hudson to Lake Ontario, and around the Falls of Niagara;" 
an appropriation of public lands to be the financial basis. 

General Porter advocated the measure in an elaborate 
speech, which, for style and ability, has rarely been surpassed 
in Congress. His efforts, however, proved unsuccessful. 

These incipient movements in 18 10, toward our Erie Canal, 
with other influences, probably, turned the attention of enter- 


prising men to this locality; for we gather from Ketchum's 
History, that the settlement of the infant Village of Buffalo 
received a great impetus in that year. 

In April, i8ir, Mr. Clinton introduced a bill in the Senate, 
which was passed, empowering the Commissioners to solicit 
the aid of the general government in performing the great 
work contemplated; and the Board deputed DeWitt Clinton 
and Gouverneur Morris to perform that duty. They entered 
earnestly upon the business, devoting much time and their 
great abilities to induce President Madison and Congress to 
take the matter into consideration, but without any success. 
In March, 1812, the Commissioners made their report to the 
Legislature, and urged that " now sound policy demanded that 
the canal should be made by the State of New York alone, and 
for her own account." 

In June of that year, 181 2, a law was passed authorizing 
the Commissioners to borrow §5,000,000, in Europe, for prose- 
cuting the work — but the war with England interrupted 
further progress. 

In 1814, the friends of internal navigation differed in opinion 
as to the course the canal ought to take, some thinking the 
Ontario route should be preferred, rather than the direct one 
to Lake Erie. Influenced by these conflicting views, the Leg- 
islature of that year repealed the law authorizing the Commis- 
sioners to borrow $5,000,000. 

In the difference of opinion as to the route of the canal, 
manifested in 1S14, and in the desire, in 1S0S, first to survey 
the Ontario route, of which Judge Forman complained, is 
foreshadowed that spirit of rivalry to a portion of the main 
trunk, on the part of some localities, which has continued to 
the present time. 

The suspension of action caused by the war discouraged 
some of the friends of the canal, and, with many, all hopes of 
further proceedings were well-nigh abandoned; but in the 
autumn of 1S15, the war being over, the same persons who in 


1810 procured the appointment of the first Commissioners, viz., 
Messrs. Eddy, Piatt and Clinton, again set the ball in motion 
by procuring a public meeting to be held in the City of New 
York, to urge the propriety and policy, in a memorial to the 
Legislature, of proceeding with the work of the canal from 
the Hudson to Lake Erie. A large number of influential citi- 
zens, as the result of that meeting, joined in a memorial to 
the Legislature in favor of the work. That memorial, a most 
masterly production, and exhausting the arguments upon the 
subject, was the production of DeWitt Clinton, and had great 
influence throughout the State, and with the Legislature. The 
friends of the canal rallied under the standard of that memo- 
rial, in public meetings in almost every town, from Albany to 
Buffalo, and a vigorous impulse was given to the public mind 
in favor of the enterprise. 

The project was brought forward in the Legislature, which 
commenced its session on the second of February, 1816. 
Governor Tompkins, in his opening speech, thus adverted to 
the subject: " It will rest with the Legislature, whether the 
project of connecting the waters of the Hudson with those of 
the Western Lakes is not sufficiently important to demand the 
appropriation of some part of the revenues of the State to its 
accomplishment, without imposing too great a burden upon 
our constituents. We may rely on the co-operation of the 
States of the west in any judicious plan in that direction." 
This portion of the Governor's speech was referred to a joint 
committee of both Houses. On the twenty-first of February, 
the memorial of Mr. Colden, Mr. Clinton, and others of the 
City of New York, in favor of the work, was presented, and 
referred to the joint committee; and on the first of March a 
memorial to the same effect, from the Mayor, Aldermen and 
Commonalty of the City of New York, was presented; and 
numerous others came pouring in from most of the principal 
towns and villages in the interior. 

There was strong opposition to the project, from the river 


counties and many other quarters, which was strengthened by 
the fear of competition in the eastern markets with their own 
produce, from the fertile lands at the west, not anticipating the 
rapid growth and increasing wants, of both city and country, 
which the canal would call forth. On the eighth of March the 
Commissioners made their annual report. The war had inter- 
fered with their progress, and they now recommend immediate 
action; and, as an additional reason, they show "the necessity 
of preventing the trade of the West from passing down the St. 
Lawrence." The report was signed by all the Commissioners 
except Gouverneur Morris. 

On the twenty-first of March, the joint committee presented 
an able report in favor of the immediate commencement of 
the canal, and introduced a bill for that purpose. It encoun- 
tered strong opposition, and had many discussions and altera- 
tions. An amendment providing for a local tax on the lands, 
twenty-five miles in breadth, along the middle section, softened 
the opposition of many. The bill passed the Assembly on the 
twelfth of April, after being so amended as to direct the work 
to be commenced, but confined to the middle section, limiting 
the expenditures to §250,000 per annum, and the whole not to 
exceed $2,000,000. The bill named thirteen persons as Com- 
missioners, among whom were DeWitt Clinton, Stephen Van 
Rensselaer, Joseph Ellicott, and Samuel Young. 

The Senate took up the bill on the sixteenth of April, where 
it also encountered opposition and much discussion. On mo- 
tion of Mr. Van Buren, it was amended, by striking out that 
part which authorized commencing the work, and by directing 
more full and accurate surveys and estimates. Mr. Van Buren 
thought the Legislature had not sufficient information to justify 
the law authorizing the beginning of such a work, and feared 
the measure might be prejudiced by too hasty action. After 
an unsuccessful motion to reject the whole bill, by Major 
Cochran, and after reducing the number of Commissioners to 
five, the bill passed the Senate. 


The names of the Commissioners retained, were Messrs. 
Clinton, Van Rensselaer, Ellicott, Young, and Myron Holley. 
The Assembly at first refused to concur in the amendments, 
and several conferences took place between the two Houses. 
Finally, by great efforts on the part of some of the friends of 
the measure, who feared the whole project might be lost, the 
House concurred, and the bill was passed on the last day of 
the session, in the form in which it came from the Senate. 

The duties of the Commissioners under this act of i8i6 r 
were to examine the country, cause surveys to be made, levels 
taken, and maps, etc., to be made, and to recommend plans 
for the construction of the canal; also to estimate the whole 
expense of the work, and ascertain if loans could be procured, 
and to what amount, and on what terms. 

The Commissioners met and organized in New York, in 
May following, DeWitt Clinton being chosen as President of 
the Board, Samuel Young, Secretary, and Myron Holley, 
Treasurer. They occupied the season in a diligent and labori- 
ous discharge of the duties assigned to them. 

An extra session of the Legislature was held in November 
1816, for appointing presidential electors, at which Governor 
Tompkins in his speech directed their attention to the subject 
of the canal, in the following "negative "* paragraph: " It is 
respectfully submitted to your wisdom to make provision at 
the present session, for employing apart, at least, of the State 
prisoners, either in building a new prison at Auburn, erecting 
fortifications, opening roads, constructing canals, or in making 
other improvements." Governor Tompkins had never been 
suspected of any very strong friendship for the canal project, 
says William L. Stone, and this chilling paragraph was at once 
construed into a settled hostility, which subsequent events 
proved too true. 

At the opening of the regular session of the Legislature, which 

* William L. Stone. 


commenced in January, 1817, no communication was made 
by the Governor; and no action was had in reference to the 
canal till the seventeenth of February, when the Commission- 
ers presented their report, which was full and elaborate, and 
they recommended that the work be entered upon without de- 
lay. The report was referred to a joint committee of the two 
Houses. Some delay arose in preparing a financial plan, from 
the desire to know the fate of a measure, then before Con- 
gress, for apportioning among the States the dividends on the 
stock owned by the United States, in the United States Bank, 
the proportion of the State of New York being about 390,000 
per annum. The measure was passed by Congress, but vetoed 
by Preseident Madison, as one of his last official acts. Some 
disappointment was felt at this result, but it seemed to awaken 
a spirit of determination that the work should be done by the 
State of New York, on her own account. 

On the nineteenth of March, the joint committee presented 
their report, and recommended the immediate construction of 
the canal from the Mohawk to the Seneca River. Colonel J. 
Rutsen Van Rensselaer, being disappointed in the report, 
thinking it came short of meeting the case, and feeling certain 
of the practicability of the whole route, and the vast benefits 
to result from it, sent in a proposition for undertaking the con- 
struction of the whole Erie Canal himself.* 

The subject was first taken up, this year, in the Assembly 
on the first of April, in the Committee of the Whole, on the 
bill as introduced by Mr. Ford, chairman of the joint com- 
mittee. It encountered able and protracted debate, and un- 
derwent some alterations. The discussion was continued the 
next day, when the whole measure was subjected to a severe 
ordeal at the hands of William A. Duer, of Duchess County, 
who, however, proved to be a true friend to the project. The 

* Colonel Van Rensselaer's patriotic proposition included terms, in reference to remun- 
eration, which it was deemed impolitic to adopt. 


-discussion was resumed on the seventh, when William B. 
Rochester, of Monroe, gave strong support to the measure, 
oipon its broad merits. 

It was further discussed on the eighth and ninth, and one 
of the most beautiful and convincing speeches in its favor, was 
made by Elisha Williams, of Columbia. After further amend- 
ments, and after a motion by Mr. Sergeant to reject the whole 
bill had been negatived, the bill passed the Assembly on the 
eleventh of April. The bill was discussed in the Senate on 
the twelfth, and again on the fourteenth, meeting with strong 
opposition. Among its ablest supporters in the Senate, were 
Mr. Tibbitts, of Rensselaer, and Mr. Van Buren. The latter 
made one of the strongest arguments of the session, in its 
favor, and introduced an important amendment, which was 
.adopted, authorizing the Commissioners to borrow money on 
the credit of the State, instead of only pledging the canal fund. 
The bill had its final passage through both Houses on the 
fourteenth of April, and was sent to the Council of Revision, 
where it became a law, on the fifteenth. 

The ordeal this bill met with in the Council of Revision, 
came near being fatal to it; it could not have received a two- 
thirds vote after a veto. The Council was composed of Lieu- 
tenant-Governor John Tayler, acting Governor, as President 
of the Council, Chief-Justice Thompson, Chancellor Kent, and 
Judges Yates and Piatt. Acting Governor Tayler was openly 
opposed to the whole scheme. The Chief-Justice was also op- 
posed to this bill. Chancellor Kent was in favor of the canal, 
but feared it was too early for the State to undertake this gigan- 
tic work. Judges Yates and Piatt were in favor of the bill; 
but it was likely to be lost by the casting vote of the acting 

Vice-President Tompkins (recently the Governor) entered 
the room at this stage of the proceedings, and, in an informal 
way; joined in conversation upon the subject before the Council, 
and in opposition to this bill. He said, " The late peace with 


Great Britain was a mere truce, and we would undoubtedly 
soon have a renewed war with that country; and instead of 
wasting the credit and resources of the State in this chimerical 
project, we ought to employ all our revenue and credit in pre- 
paring for war. ' Do you think so, sir?' said Chancellor Kent. 
* Yes, sir,' replied the Vice-President; 'England will never for- 
give us for our victories, and, my word for it, we shall have 
another war with her within two years.' The Chancellor, then 
rising from his seat, with greatanimation declared, 'If we must 
have war, * * * * lam in favor of the canal, and I vote 
for the bill.' "* With that vote the bill became a law. 

The first meeting of the Commissioners to receive proposals 
and make contracts, under this law, was held at Utica, June 
3, 1 817. Commissioners Young and Holley had charge of 
the work on the middle section, which it was deemed advisable 
to construct first. 

It was arranged with the authorities of the Village of Rome, 
to unite with the celebration of the fourth of July of that year, 
the ceremonies of commencing the work on the canal. At the 
appointed time and place, Judge Hathaway, President of the 
village, made a short address, adapted to the occasion, and then 
delivered the spade into the hands of the Commissioners. 

After a short but graphic speech by Commissioner Young, 
he handed the spade to Judge Richardson, the first contractor, 
who then thrust it into the ground and made the first excava- 
tion for the construction of the canal. The example was im- 
mediately followed by his own laborers, and by the assembled 
citizens, all ambitious of the honor of participating in the labors 
of that memorable occasion. Thus, amid the roar of artillery, 
and the acclamations of the people, was begun that great work 
which has spread civilization, wealth and refinement over a 
vast country, and conferred imperishable renown upon the 
State which accomplished an undertaking of such magnitude. 

•Jonas Piatt. 


DeWitt Clinton, who had successfully devoted his great abili- 
ties to the advancement of the canal project, and who was al- 
most unanimously elected Governor of the State in 181 7, and 
held that office, by successive re-elections, till his death in 1828, 
(with the exception of two years), used the following language 
in his first message to the Legislature, in January, 1818: "I 
congratulate you upon the auspicious commencement and suc- 
cessful progress of the contemplated water communication be- 
tween the great western lakes and the Atlantic ocean. Nearly 
sixty miles have been contracted for, to be finished within the 
present year." 

And in his message of 1826, he said: "In 181S, I had the' 
pleasure to congratulate the Legislature on the auspicious com- 
mencement and successful progress of the contemplated water 
communication between the western lakes and the Atlantic 
ocean, and I now have the peculiar gratification to felicitate 
you on its completion." 

The completion of the middle section, extending from LTtica 
to Montezuma, was celebrated on the fourth of July, 1820, 
three years from the time of its commencement. 

The completion of the eastern section was celebrated at Al- 
bany on the eighth of October, 1S23, with imposing ceremonies. 

The whole work was finished on the twenty-sixth of October, 
1825; and at the precise time of its completion, the message- 
was dispatched over the line of artillery telegraph, which an- 
nounced the welcome news, from Erie to Ocean. 

The event was celebrated along the entire line, with great 
•enthusiasm and appropriate ceremonies. 

It was the full dawn of an important era. The great work, 
having triumphed over all sectional and partisan opposition, 
all financial embarrassments, all natural barriers and obstacles, 
was at length completed; thenceforth to transmit its benefits 
to the latest generations, and brighten the pages of the history 
of the Empire State. 

2>&p. -ZA£,_5 





On the fourth day of July, 1817, with much ceremony, the 
construction of the Erie Canal was commenced at Rome, on 
that summit that divides the waters that find their way, on the 
one side by the St. Lawrence, and on the other by the Hudson,, 
to the ocean. 

On the twenty-sixth day of October, 1825, the completion of 
the canal was celebrated. In the short period of eight years 
and about four months the mighty work of connecting the great 
lakes with the ocean by a safe and convenient navigation had 
been accomplished. The high officers of the State, accompanied 
by many of the leading friends of the canal, embarked on its 
waters for the ocean, amid the roars of artillery that carried the 
glad tidings from gun-to gun, from the shores of the lake to the 
walls of Fort La Fayette, in New York harbor. Such a salute 
of artillery, formed in a battery five hundred miles long, the 
world had never heard before — and never before had there been 
such an occasion. It was to celebrate one of those victories of 
peace that all men saw must determine and make certain the 
future glories of this new nation. 


On the decks of the flotilla that then took its departure from 
Lake Erie, stood men who had first taught the public and ed- 
ucated it up to the courage that had dared the enterprise; — 
men who had suffered obloquy and contempt as the wildest of 
visionaries; — men who had been reviled and had all manner of 
evil spoken of them for having led the State to undertake a 
project so vast that it was said of it that the utmost energies 
of the mightiest empire would only be sufficient for its accom- 

Prominent among these men was DeWitt Clinton — who more 
than any other man had staked everything on the success of the 
canal — who had suffered more in abuse — who had devoted more 
unpaid time — who had spent more of his own money than any 
other man — now Governor of the leading State of this mighty 
nation, surrounded by a people who were proud to do him honor, 
who appreciated the victory that his statesmanship had at last 
won over all gainsayers, and felt that henceforth his fame was 

We who have seen this canal in operation for nearly all our 
lives, can hardly appreciate the difficulties that surrounded its 
early history. The population of the whole State did not at 
the commencement of the construction of the canal equal that 
of the City of New York at this day. The wealth of the people 
was in still smaller proportion to that which now undertakes 
great works. Engineering as a profession had no existence in 
the country. Canals the people had never seen. The agricul- 
tural interests of the eastern part of the State, where was the 
greatest population and the seat of political power, greatly 
feared the competition that the grain-growing capacity of the 
then far-famed Genesee country would give them in the cities — 
and strange as it now appears, the seaport that the canal was 
soon to make the commercial center of the world, was most 
obstinate in its opposition. Political parties took ground in 
regard to the canal policy of the State, and arrayed the blind 
ignorance that parties wield against it. Many men that the 


world called good and wise refused to aid, and in many cases 
violently opposed it. The great sage of Monticello, when asked 
to give it his assistance, said that it was a hundred years too 
soon to undertake such an enterprise. The nation, that owned 
a vast domain, then wild and unsettled, that the canal was to 
make into powerful States, most positively refused to give the 
least part of its surplus wealth or of its unsaleable lands, to aid 
in the work. Single-handed, the State undertook the enterprise, 
and through evil and good report, depending on our own citi- 
zens for Commissioners, Engineers and Contractors, in an in- 
conceivably short time the work was accomplished, and on the 
flotilla that started from Buffalo on the twenty-sixth day of 
October, 1S25, to mingle the waters of Lake Erie with those of 
the Atlantic, were borne the men who had so successfully con- 
summated the mighty enterprise. ' The importance of the Erie 
Canal was not then overrated. Railroads were little known, 
and would be still far behind their present development among 
us but that the canal, having first opened the country, made rail- 
roads possible and profitable — and to whatever extent railroads 
may hereafter be constructed, the Erie Canal will still remain 
the great regulator of the prices of transportation from the West 
to the East. Remaining the property of the State — free to the 
navigation, with equal tolls, of every man's boat, no combina- 
tion can be made to keep up the prices of transportation, as 
they might have been kept up, but for the canal owned by the 
State. Calm and sober reflection, now that more than forty 
years have elapsed since we first used the canal, must admit 
that the rejoicings that attended the voyage of the first boats 
all the way to the sea were justified by the occasion; and all 
future ages must award to the men who brought this canal into 
being the high meed of Public Benefactors. 

A synopsis of the early history of the canal will be attempted 
in the following pages. 

In 1724, Cadwallader Colden, the Surveyor-General of the 
Province of New York, in his report to Governor Burnet, after 


having mentioned the communication into Lake Ontario by 
the Onondaga River, says: "Besides the passage by the lakes, 
there is a river which comes from the country of the Senecas, 
and falls into the Onondaga River, by which we have an easy 
carriage into the country, without going near Cataraqui (On- 
tario) Lake. The head of this river goes near the Lake Erie, 
and probably may give a very near passage into that lake, 
and more advantageous than the way the French are obliged 
to take by the great Falls of Jagara (Niagara.)" (Colden's 
Memoir, p. 28.) 

This is, doubtless, the first recorded speculation in regard to 
a water communication between the Mohawk River and Lake 
Erie across the interior of the country, and avoiding Lake On- 
tario entirely. It was but the expression of a hope that a more 
safe, as well as convenient way might be found to the trade of 
the upper lakes than that frequented by the French, and made 
dangerous to the frail boats then employed in the fur trade by 
the storms of Lake Ontario, and was, doubtless, abandoned by 
the Surveyor-General when he had acquired more knowledge 
of the country. In 1747, he published a history of the Five 
Nations of Indians, containing a map, on which the Genesee 
River is quite accurately laid down as running across the coun- 
try between the Seneca River and Lake Erie; showing that 
there could be no such line of navigation, using the natural 
water courses, as in 1724 he hoped might exist. In the report 
of the Surveyor-General in 1724 is described the portage or 
carrying place, between the Mohawk and Wood Creek, where 
the Village of Rome now stands. He said the portage was three 
miles long, except in very dry weather, when goods must be 
carried two miles further. 

Carver, who traversed the lake country one hundred years 
ago (1766), says that a water passage between the Mohawk and 
Wood Creek was at that time effected by sluices (Golden, p. 
12), and, in 1768, Sir Henry Moore, in a message to the Colonial 
Legislature, proposed to remedy the obstructions to the navi- 


gation of the Mohawk, between Schenectady and Fort Stanwix 
(now Rome), by sluices, like those in the great canal of Lan- 
guedoc in France. (Colden, p. 13.) 

Thus it appears that while we were but a colony of Great 
Britain, the subject of improving the natural water courses be- 
tween the Hudson and the great lakes was a matter that at- 
tracted and received the attention of the Government, and as 
soon as we had secured our national independence the subject 
was still more vigorously pressed on the public attention. 

In 1784, and again in 1785, Christopher Colles, of the City 
of New York, memorialized the Legislature, and procured an 
appropriation of one hundred and twenty-five dollars to enable 
him to examine the Mohawk River, with a view to its improve- 
ment (Clark's Onondaga, p. 51, vol. 2); and, in 1786, Jeffrey 
Smith, a member of the Legislature, asked leave to introduce a 
bill for the improvement of this navigation, and for " extend- 
ing the same, if practicable, to Lake Erie." (Turner's Hollaml 
Purchase, p. 619.) 

In 1791, Governor George Clinton, in his speech to the Leg- 
islature, urged the necessity of improving the natural water 
channels, so as to facilitate communications with the frontier 
settlements; and in that year a law was passed to authorize the 
Commissioners of the Land Office to survey the portage at 
Rome and the Mohawk to the Hudson for improvement by 
locks, and one hundred pounds were appropriated for the ob- 
ject. (State Engineer's Report, 1862, p. 619.) 

The survey was made by Abraham Hardenburgh, under the 
advice of William Weston, an English engineer. (Clark's 
Onon., p. 51, vol. 2.) The Commissioners who had charge of 
the work were Elkanah Watson, General Schuyler and Golds- 
brow Banyer. (State Engineer's Report, p. 91.) 

The Commissioners made a report so favorable that the Leg- 
islature, on the thirtieth of March, 1792, passed an Act incor- 
porating the " Western Inland Lock Navigation Company," 
with power to open a lock navigation from the Hudson to lakes 


Ontario and Seneca. By the same Act the ' Northern Inland 
Lock Navigation Company " was incorporated, with power to 
make a lock navigation from the Hudson to Lake Champlain. 
(State Engineer's Report, 1862, p. 92.) 

The capital stock of each of these companies was at first 
fixed at twenty-five thousand dollars; afterwards the capital of 
the Western Company was raised to $300,000. 

In 1795, the State subscribed ten thousand dollars, and, in 
1796, loaned thirty-seven thousand five hundred dollars, taking 
a mortgage on the Little Falls canal and locks — and the com- 
pany in 1813 had expended four hundred and eighty thousand 

This large expenditure of money proved to be of very little 
utility. As early as 1796 the navigation was opened from 
Schenectady to Seneca Lake for boats of sixteen tons burthen, 
in favorable stages of the water in the rivers — but the locks 
being constructed of wood and brick soon failed and had to 
be rebuilt. The tolls were fifty-two cents on a barrel of flour 
for a hundred miles, and for a ton of goods for the same dis- 
tance, five dollars and seventy-two cents. (State Engineer's 
Report, p. 93.) The high tolls and other expenses of this navi- 
gation were so onerous that land carriage on the poor roads of 
that day still continued to be the usual mode of communica- 
tion between the interior and the seaboard. 

In 1798, a company was incorporated to make a canal around 
the Falls of Niagara, but nothing was ever done under the law. 

The Western Company employed Mr. Weston, the English 
engineer, to examine the Oswego River, and he reported the 
" navigation from Oswego Falls to Lake Ontario as hardly sus- 
ceptible of improvement by means of canalling," and in 1S0S 
the company surrendered to the State all their right to improve 
this river — and thus the leading object of the company, con- 
necting the Hudson with Lake Ontario, was formally abandoned. 

The history of both the Western and Northern Inland Lock 
Navigation Companies is but a repetition of failures, a record 


of disappointed hopes. The friends of internal improvements 
in the interior and western parts of the State, by the end of the 
last century, ceased to look to the Western Company as likely 
to furnish any relief to their over-burthened cost of transpor- 
tation. The statesmen of that day despaired of any advance- 
ment of the population and dignity of the State to be brought 
about by this abortive enterprise (Hosack's Memoir, p. 381.) 

Most naturally, discussions in regard to what measures could 
be adopted to enable the owners of the rich lands of the in- 
terior to find their markets, at a reasonable cost, were constant 
among the public men at the beginning of this century. One 
of these discussions led to important results. Gouverneur 
Morris and Simeon DeWitt met in Schenectady in 1803, and 
passed an evening in a free interchange of views. The means 
of intercourse with the interior, was an important topic. Mr. 
Morris "mentioned the project of tapping Lake Erie, as he ex- 
pressed himself-, and leading its waters, in an artificial river, 
directly across the country to Hudson's River." To this Mr. 
DeWitt very naturally opposed the intermediate hills and val- 
leys, as insuperable obstacles. Morris's answer was, in sub- 
stance, Labor improbus om?iia vincit, and that the object would 
justify the labor and expense, whatever it might be. " Con- 
sidering this as a romantic thing," says Mr. DeWitt, " I related 
it on several occasions." (DeWitt's Letter. Canal Laws, vol. 1, 
p. 39.) Simeon DeWitt had then long been Surveyor-General 
of the State, and was well acquainted with its topography to 
the west bounds of the Military Tract, but owing to the fact 
that so much of the State as lies west of that tract was owned 
in large grants by companies that had made their own surveys, 
and had their" own land offices, he possessed no especial ad- 
vantages, growing out of his position, of knowing anything of 
the formation of the country west of the military lands; and 
he very naturally supposed that the rivers ran in deep valleys 
to Lake Ontario, and that between them were ranges of high 
hills. He was a man of caution, and dealt in facts, and had 


little or nothing of the extravagant in his nature. Mr. Morris 
was a man of an entirely different stamp. He was a projector. 
He had seen canals in Europe, and knew their utility, and he 
had seen Lake Erie, and had long entertained the opinion that 
ships were some time to sail from London by the way of the 
Hudson to this inland sea. In view of the mighty results that 
would flow from a canal, all obstacles were but trivial in his 
mind, and hills and valleys, in his ardor, were swept away in 
the argument, by a Latin quotation. As early as 1777, Mr. 
Morris had publicly expressed his views in regard to internal 
improvements. " After the evacuation of Ticonderoga, when 
our scattered forces had been concentrated at Fort Edward, 
Mr. Morris arrived at General Schuyler's headquarters, on a 
mission from the Committee of General Safety, of this State." 
Governor Morgan Lewis (Hosack, p. 250) describes him as 
never doubting the ultimate triumph of our arms, and frequently 
descanting with great energy on what he termed " the rising 
glories of the western world," and announcing " that at no dis- 
tant day the waters of the great western inland seas would, by 
the aid of man, break through their barriers and mingle with 
those of the Hudson." "I recollect asking him," says Gover- 
nor Lewis, "how they were to break through the barriers. To 
which he replied, that numerous streams passed them through 
natural channels, and that artificial ones might be conducted 
by the same routes." 

In 1800, Mr. Morris visited Lake Erie, and in December of 
that year wrote a letter to his friend John Parish, then of Ham- 
burg, giving an account of His journey (Hosack, p. 257.) Of 
Niagara River, above the Falls, he says: "A quiet, gentle 
stream leaves the shores of a country level and fertile. Along 
the banks of this stream, which, by reason of the islands in it, 
appears to be of moderate size, we proceed to Fort Erie. Here 
again the boundless waste of waters fills the mind with re- 
newed astonishment: and here, as in turning a point of wood 
the lake broke on my view, I saw, riding at anchor, nine vessels, 


the least of them one hundred tons. Can you bring your im- 
agination to realize this scene? Does it seem like magic? Yet 
this magic is but the early effort of victorious industry. Hun- 
dreds of large ships will in no distant period bound on the bil- 
lows of those inland seas. At this point commences a naviga- 
tion of more than a thousand miles. Shall I lead your aston- 
ishment to the verge of incredulity? I will. Know, then, that 
one-tenth of the expense borne by Britain in the last campaign 
would enable ships to sail from London through Hudson's 
River to Lake Erie. As yet, my friend, we only crawl along 
the outer shell of our country. The interior excels the part we 
inhabit in soil, in climate, in everything. The proudest empire 
in Europe is but a bauble compared to what America will be, 
must be, in the course of two centuries, perhaps of one." 

This shows how strongly Mr. Morris had at this early day 
become impressed with the great scheme of uniting Lake Erie 
with tide-water by a canal. 

Among the men to whom Mr. DeWitt related the conversa- 
tion at Schenectady, setting forth what he called Mr. Morris's 
"romantic" scheme, was a land surveyor, who had made his 
home amid the wilds of Central New York. In 1794 he had 
come from Pennsylvania in boats loaded with kettles for boil- 
ing salt; up the Susquehannah River to the Chemung and its 
branches, to the portage at Bath; then by the way of Crooked 
and Seneca lakes, and the rivers to the Salt Springs, where he 
had made salt and surveyed and cultivated land, until his 
neighbors had sent him to Albany to legislate for them in the 
year 1S04. Mr. DeWitt had long known this man as one of 
his most trusted deputy surveyors, and quite naturally told 
him of the "romantic" scheme of Morris. 

This surveyor, James Geddes, says in a letter to Dr. Ho- 
sack (1 Hosack, p. 235), "The impression made on my mind 
was vivid; the saving of so much lockage" (by avoiding the 
descent to, and the ascent from, Lake Ontario), "struck me as 
a grand desideratum. I had then been ten years in this court- 


try, a wilderness at that time, but partly penetrated, had a 
knowledge of the chain of swamps which stretch across the 
country from Montezuma to the Mohawk River, and readily 
entertained some idea of the practicability of the project." He 
says in his letter, dated February, 1822: "The idea of saving 
so much lockage, by not descending to Lake Ontario, made a 
lively impression on my mind, by which I was prompted on 
every occasion to enquire into the practicability of the pro- 
ject." (Canal Laws, vol. 1, p. 42.) 

Mr. Geddes lived near the center of the State, and all his 
interests were connected with the growth and prosperity of the 
country in which he had made his home, and untiringly he 
pressed his investigations as to the character of the surface of 
the country west of the great chain of swamps. Extensive cor- 
respondence was resorted to with land agents, surveyors, and 
other men who, it was supposed, might be able to give inform- 
ation, and every available map consulted. He did not rest 
with this; he formed public opinion, and agitated the subject, 
until, in 1807, it had become a theme of so great interest in 
Onondaga County, that it became the turning point of local 
politics (see Appendix A.) Judge Joshua Forman, a citizen 
of that county, was one of those extraordinary men who possess 
the power of persuading other men to adopt their views and 
opinions to such an extent that they direct public opinion in 
the communities in which they live. A graduate of L'nion Col- 
lege, and a pupil in the study of the law of Samuel Miles Hop- 
kins, he added to the bountiful gifts of Nature, the accomplish- 
ments of a scholar; to these were joined a singular grace of per- 
son and manner. Ardently advocating the canal scheme, he 
was by common consent selected to go to the Legislature to 
procure an appropriation of money to make surveys. In poli- 
tics he was a Federalist, and his county was strongly against 
that party. To overcome this difficulty, leading Federalists 
and Democrats came together and formed a " Union ticket" 
for the Assembly, consisting of John McWhorter (Democrat). 


and Joshua Forman (Federalist.) To give it strength it was 
headed "Canal Ticket" (Clark, vol. 2, p. 72.) Prominent in 
its support were Doctor William Kirkpatrick, then a demo- 
cratic member of Congress and Superintendent of Onondaga 
Sale Springs, and Thomas Wheeler, of the same side of pol- 
itics, acting in concert with leading Federalists, including 
James Geddes and Elisha Alvord; and so strongly was the 
ticket pressed that, at Salina, Mr. Forman received one hun- 
dred and ten votes, and only two were given against him 
(Thomas Wheeler's Letter and Ira Gillchre's Personal Com- 
munications.) His election was triumphant (see Appendix B.) 
Thus the leading men of Onondaga laid aside party, and 
united in sending to the Assembly by far the best man the 
county had, to do the service then required. The example 
then set of ignoring party claims, was often followed in the 
many bitter contests that were afterwards encountered. This 
election was held in April, 1807. Six months afterwards, on 
the twenty-seventh day of October, appeared the first number 
of a series of articles in the Ontario Messenger, signed " Her- 
cules," and written by Jesse Hawley, strongly advocating 
the construction of a canal on the interior route (see Ap- 
pendix C.) 

On the fourth day of February, 1808, Judge Forman, in the 
Assembly, called up for consideration a joint resolution which 
he had previously submitted, and which was in the following 
words: " Resolved (if the honorable the Senate concur herein), 
That a joint committee be appointed to take into considera- 
tion the propriety of exploring and causing an accurate survey 
to be made of the most eligible and direct route for a canal, to 
open communication between the tide-waters of the Hudson 
River and Lake Erie, to the end that Congress may be en- 
abled to appropriate such sums as may be necessary to the ac- 
complishment of that great national object; and in case of such 
concurrence, that Mr. Gold, Mr. Gilbert, Mr. Forman, Mr. 
German and Mr. Hogeboom, be a committee on the part of this 


House." The fruit that this resolution bore, was the canals of 
the State of New York. 

On the twenty-first day of March, Mr. Gold, from the joint 
committee, reported the resolution so amended as to order the 
Surveyor-General "to cause an accurate survey to be made of 
the rivers, streams and waters (not already accurately sur- 
veyed), in the usual route of communication between the Hud- 
son River and Lake Erie, and such other contemplated route 
as he may deem proper, and cause the same to be delineated 
on charts or maps for that purpose accompanying the same, with 
the elevations of the route, and such explanatory notes as may 
be necessary for all useful information in the premises; of which 
one copy shall be filed in the office of the Secretary of this State, 
and another transmitted to the President of the United States, 
which the person administering the government of this State is 
requested to do." The Senate concurred on the sixth of April, 
and on the eleventh of April six hundred dollars were appropri- 
ated to enable the Surveyor-General to carry out the resolution. 

To Judge Forman belongs the credit of procuring this first 
legislative action looking to the construction of a canal di- 
rectly from the Hudson to Lake Erie. He displayed great 
tact in the management of the matter, and though his resolu- 
tion was in the first instance received with derision, he made a 
very able speech, showing that he was fully informed on the 
subject of canals generally, and sketched the route, " following 
the Valley of the Mohawk to Rome, then the Valley of Oneida 
and Seneca rivers to the head of Mud Creek; from the west, 
from the Niagara up Tonawanda and down Allen's Creek to 
the Genesee River." (Hosack, p. 345 — see Forman's letter 
there.) He estimated the cost at $10,000,000, which he said 
was a " bagatelle to the value of such a navigation." The ex- 
pressions of ridicule with which the proposition was at first 
received, were no longer heard, but the ground on which some 
members said they voted for the resolution, was "that it could 
do no harm, and might do some good." 


It will be observed, that the resolution, as passed, is unlike 
the one introduced, in this: Directions are given to survey 
the usual routes of communication, and only by the words 
"such other routes as he may deem proper" meeting the object 
of the mover. The joint committee could not be induced to 
take the responsibility of so wild a project; they only left a 
chance of its being examined at the discretion of the Survey- 
or-General. The very small sum appropriated was in itself 
proof that but little was expected to be done, and that was 
probably doled out to silence the importunities of the persis- 
tent representative of Onondaga. 

Such was the reception given by the Legislature to the Erie 
Canal, when first presented for its consideration. 

It had been a part of the plans of the men of Onondaga, 
that Mr. Geddes should make the surveys, and the Surveyor- 
General readily appointed him to do the work (Ira Gillchre's 
and James Geddes' personal communications to author.) On 
the eleventh of June, 1808, the Surveyor-General wrote Mr. 
Geddes, saying: "As the provision made for the expenses of 
this business is not adequate to the effectual exploring of the 
country, you will, in the first place, examine what may appear 
to be the best place for a canal from Oneida Lake to Lake 
Ontario in the town of Mexico, and take a survey and level of 
it; — also whether a canal cannot be made between Oneida 
Lake and Oswego, by a route in part to the west of the Oswego 
River, so as to avoid those parts along it where it will be im- 
practicable to make a good navigation. The next object will 
be the ground between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, which 
must be examined with a view to determine what will be the 
most eligible track for a canal, from below the Niagara Falls 
to Lake Erie. If your means will admit of it, it would be a 
desirable thing to have a level taken throughout the whole dis- 
tance between the two lakes. As Mr. Joseph Ellicott has 
given me a description of the country from Tonawanda 
Creek to the Genesee River, and pointed out a route for a 


canal through that tract, it is important to have a continuation 
of it explored to the Seneca River. No leveling or survey of 
it will be necessary for the present (because the appropriation 
will probably by this time be expended.) It must be left as a 
work by itself, to be undertaken hereafter, should the Govern- 
ment deem it necessary. A view of the ground only, with 
such information as may be obtained from others, is all that 
can now be required of you." 

Mr. Geddes at once commenced his explorations in accord- 
ance with these instructions of the Surveyor-General, and 
made careful surveys of both the routes proposed from Oneida 
Lake to Lake Ontario, and then went to the Niagara River, 
and leveled around the Falls, determining with great accuracy 
the whole descent in the river. 

This whole survey of the Ontario route was not an agree- 
able work for Mr. Geddes, as his views were all directed to 
the finding of a line over which a canal could be made that 
would save the lockage down to Lake Ontario, and then up to 
the Rome summit; nevertheless, he executed the work as 
faithfully as it could have been done, had he entertained no 
other views than making a canal by that route. He spent the 
season and the money in this work, and thus carried out his 
instructions, but he had not accomplished the object that he 
had for years been aiming at. In his letter to Mr. Darby, of 
February 22, 1822, published in the Canal Laws, he says: 
"The spot of great difficulty and uncertainty respecting our 
inland route remained unexamined, — to-wit: the tract between 
Genesee River and Palmyra, or head waters of Mud Creek, — 
and the hopes from a view of maps discouraging indeed. 
Where was the water to be got for locking over the high land 
that was supposed to rise between Genesee River and Mud 
Creek ? All knowledge of an interior route was incomplete 
while this piece of country remained unknown. In December 
of that year I again left home for the above object, and after 
discovering at the west end of Palmyra that singular brook 


which divides, running part to Oswego and part to the Ironde- 
quot Bay, I leveled from this spot to the Genesee River, and 
to my great joy and surprise found the level of the river far 
elevated above the spot where the brooks parted, and no high 
lands between. But to make the Genesee River run down 
Mud Creek, it must be got over the Irondequot Valley. After 
leveling from my first line one and a half miles up the valley, 
I found the place where the canal is now making across that 
stream. * * * The passage of the Irondequot 

Valley is on a surface not surpassed, perhaps, in the world for 
singularity. The ridges, along the top of which the canal is 
carried, are, in many places, of just sufficient height and 
width for its support. * * * When the work is 

finished, the appearance to a stranger will be that nearly all 
these natural embankments are artificial works. * * 

The surface of the foundation of the arch for the stream to 
pass through, is just seventy feet below the top water-line of 
the canal. * * * While traveling the snowy hills 
in December, 1808, I little thought of ever seeing the Genesee 
waters crossing this valley on the embankment now construct- 
ing over it. I had, to be sure, lively presentiments that time 
would bring about all I was planning; that boats would one 
day pass along on the tops of these fantastic ridges; that pos- 
terity would see and enjoy the sublime spectacle; — but that 
for myself, I had been born many, very many years too soon. 
There are those, Sir, who can realize my feelings on such an 
occasion, and can forgive if I felt disposed to exclaim, ' 'Eureka, 
on making this discovery. How would the great Brindley, 
with all his characteristic anxiety to avoid lockage, have felt in 
such a case; all his cares at an end about water to lock up 
from the Genesee River, finding no lockage required ? Boats 
to pass over these arid plains, and along the very tops of these 
high ridges, seemed like idle tales to every one around me." 

Early in the year 1805, Mr. Geddes had seen a map of the 
country west of the Genesee River, that led him to believe 


that a route could be found there without difficulty; and Mr. 
Ellicott had, in his letter referred to by Mr. DeWitt, pointed 
out the route that appeared to him the best, and had given 
such information that no fears were entertained as to that part 
of the country. The great obstacles had been looked for be- 
tween the Genesee River and the waters of the Seneca. The 
discovery of the passage of the Irondequot really solved the 
whole question. 

It is quite common for men possessing much information in 
regard to the history of the canal, to say that its practicability 
was determined by the expenditure of the small sum of six 
hundred dollars — which was the sum the State appropriated 
for making the survey and the maps and report of 1808. 
The true statement of the case is this: The sum appropriated 
by the State was expended under the instructions of the Sur- 
veyor-General in determining the ineligibility of the Lake On- 
tario route. The eligibility of the interior route was deter- 
mined at the cost of seventy-three dollars, advanced by the 
engineer from his own funds, and afterwards paid him by 
the State. 

On the twentieth day of January, 1809, Mr. Geddes sub- 
mitted his report to the Surveyor-General, and Mr. DeWitt 
said of it, in his letter to Mr. Darby, that it marked out a route 
"almost precisely in the line, which, after repeated, elaborate 
and expensive examinations, has been finally adopted." He 
continues: "Thus, then, was, by the operations of 180S, the 
fact satisfactorily established, that a canal from Lake Erie to 
Hudson's River was not only praticable, but practicable with 
uncommon facility." (Canal Laws, vol. 1, pp. 40-41.) 

This report of Mr. Geddes occupies twenty-five pages of 
the first volume of the official history of the canal (Canal Laws, 
vol 1, from p. 13 to 38), and shows that the whole subject had 
been carefully considered. The route proposed, by the way of 
the Tonawanda swamp, Mr. Ellicott supposed would have a 
summit not more than twenty feet above the mouth of Tona- 


wanda Creek, and not more than ten feet above Lake Erie; and 
that Oak Orchard Creek and some other streams would furnish 
sufficient water to supply this summit. 

Mr. Geddes saw the objections to encountering this summit, 
and suggested there may be " found some place in the ridge 
that bounds the Tonawanda Valley On the north, as low as the 
level of Lake Erie, where a canal may be led across, and con- 
ducted onward, without increasing the lockage by rising to the 
Tonawanda Swamp." (Canal Laws, vol. 1, p. 32.) In this 
conjecture he proved to be substantially correct, and subse- 
quent investigation showed that the Tonawanda Summit was 
seventy-five feet above Lake Erie. 

It may be well to remark here, that but for the finding of a 
route out of the Tonawanda Valley to the north, and thus 
keeping below the level of Lake Erie, the canal could never 
have been successful. The supply of water on the Tona- 
wanda Summit would have proved insufficient to transact the 
business of the canal before the lapse of many years; and if 
this had not proved to be so, it is very doubtful whether the 
one hundred and fifty feet of extra lockage would not have 
been looked upon as too formidable in the first cost, and as an 
obstruction too serious to navigation, to have given any prefer- 
ence to the interior route, over that by way of Lake Ontario. 
The same may be said in regard to the Irondequot embank- 
ment. But for those natural ridges, that now look like the 
work of man, we can hardly suppose that the public mind 
would have been brought up to hazarding the immense expen- 
diture that would have been necessary to have constructed an 
entire embankment. The real object of Judge Forman's joint 
resolution was accomplished, so far as to establish the practi- 
cability of a canal by the interior route. The next thing to be 
done was to provide the money necessary to do the work. He 
had recited, in his resolution, the message of Mr. Jefferson to 
Congress, in which the President recommends that the surplus 
moneys of the Treasury, over and above such sums as could 


be applied to the extinguishment of the national debt, be ap- 
propriated to the great national objects of opening canals and 
making turnpike roads. Believing this recommendation had 
been made in good faith, and that either the whole work would 
be assumed by the nation, or that, at the least, it would aid in 
it, Judge Forman, in January, 1809, made a journey to Wash- 
ington to lay the project before Mr. Jefferson. Introduced by 
his representative in Congress, the same \Vm. Kirkpatrick who 
had aided so much in electing him on the Onondaga "Canal 
Ticket," he stated that the State of New York had explored a 
route for a canal, that, once constructed, would people the 
whole Northwestern Territory; and he fully set forth the ad- 
vantages of such a canal to the whole country, in peace and in 
war. After hearing attentively, the President replied that it 
was a very fine project, and might be executed a century hence. 
"Why, sir," he said, "here is a canal of a few miles, projected 
by General Washington, which, if completed, » would render 
this a fine commercial city, which has languished for many 
years because the small sum of two hundred thousand dollars 
necessary to complete it cannot be obtained from the General 
Government, the State Government, or from individuals, and 
you talk of making a canal three hundred and fifty miles 
through the wilderness! It is little short of madness to think 
of it at this day." 

In a letter to Gov. Clinton, in 1822, Mr. Jefferson alludes to 
this interview, and says: "Many, I dare say, still think, with 
nie, that New York has anticipated, by a full century, the or- 
dinary progress of improvement. This great work suggests a 
question, both curious and difficult, as to the comparative 
capability of nations to execute great enterprises. It is not 
from greater surplus of produce, after supplying their own 
wants, for in this New York is not beyond some other States: 
is it from other sources of industry additional to her produce? 
This may be: or is it a moral superiority — a sounder calculat- 
ing mind, as to the most profitable employment of surplus, by 


improvement of capital, instead of useless consumption? I 
should lean to this latter hypothesis, were I disposed to puz- 
zle myself with such investigations." (Hosack, p. 348.) 

Mr. Forman returned from Washington disappointed, but 
not discouraged. He knew that the report of the survey of 
1808 furnished the materials for a successful agitation, and he 
and his coadjutors gave no rest to the public mind. Simeon 
DeWitt says: "The favorable light in which this year's work 
presented the projected enterprise, after encountering preju- 
dices from various sources, and oppositions made for various 
reasons, induced the Legislature, in 1810, to organize a Board 
of Commissioners, with powers and means to prosecute the 
business." (Canal Laws, vol. 1, p. 41.) In a letter to Doctor 
Hosack, dated in 182S, Judge Forman says: "The report of 
Judge Geddes proved beyond a doubt the practicability of a 
canal on the interior route, and put at rest all further ques- 
tion of the one through Lake Ontario." (Hosack, p. 348.) Ed- 
ward P. Livingston, who was a member of the New York State 
Senate from July, 1808, to 1812, says in his letter to Dr. Ho- 
sack: "The report of Mr. Geddes, in 1809, led the public 
mind more generally to think on the subject; and in 18 10 Mr. 
Piatt introduced his resolutions into the Senate." (Ibid., p. 395.) 

Judge Piatt lived in Oneida County, and had been elected to 
the Senate of the State in 1S09; and appears, by his letter to 
Dr. Hosack (page 382 of his Memoir), to have been moved to 
introduce his resolution by the efforts of Thomas Eddy, who 
was one of the Directors of the Western Inland Lock Naviga- 
tion Company, to have a law passed in aid of that Company. 
Mr. Piatt felt that the time had come for the State to assume 
the whole subject of improving its internal navigation, and 
that a canal — not the removal of bars and obstructions from 
the beds of rivers, and the making of locks around the rapids 
— was the object at which the public should aim; that rivers 
and lakes should be made serviceable to feed a canal that 
should reach from Lake Erie to tide-water, if such could be 


made. It took a night's argument to bring Mr. Eddy to see 
the force of this view; but, once convinced, he became a zeal- 
ous and useful friend of such a canal. 

The resolution was drawn up for the appointment of Com- 
missioners with power to examine the whole subject and re- 
port their views to the Legislature. It was introduced on the 
thirteenth day of March, and by the fifteenth had passed both 
Houses by a unanimous vote, — such had been the progress in 
public opinion in the short time that had elapsed since Judge 
Forman's movement had been received with derision. 

The resolution was drawn up with a view to place on the 
Commission men of commanding talents and position belong- 
ing to both political parties, whose services should be given 
without compensation. When the resolution was introduced, 
at the request of Mr. Clinton a blank was left for the names, 
that he might be unembarrassed in seconding it. The day after 
its passage, in blank, the names of Gouverneur Morris, Stephen 
Van Rensselaer, De Witt Clinton, Simeon De Witt, William 
North, Thomas Eddy and Peter B. Porter were inserted. 

In this movement Mr. Piatt consulted Stephen Van Rensse- 
laer and Abraham Van Vechten, then members of the Assem- 
bly, and who both gave their valuable aid in that House. 

During the session, three thousand dollars were appropriated 
to pay the expenses that the Commissioners might incur for 
surveys, and such objects, generally, as were embraced in the 
discharge of their duties. 

Mr. Piatt has given, in his letter to Doctor Hosack, an inter- 
esting account of his consultation with Mr. Clinton, saving: 
" Mr. Clinton was then a member of the Senate, and possessed 
a powerful influence over the dominant party in the State. 

* * * We requested an interview, and unfolded our plan, 
and the prominent facts and considerations in support of it. 

* * * Mr. Clinton listened with intense interest, and deep 
agitation of mind. He then said that he was in a great meas- 
ure a stranger to the western interior of our State; that he had 


given but little attention to the subject of canal navigation, but 
that the exposition of our plan struck his mind with great force; 
that he was then prepared to say that it was an object worthy 
of thorough examination; and that if I would move the resolu- 
tion in blank (without the names of the Commissioners), he 
would second and support it;" and Judge Piatt says: "From 
this period Mr. Clinton devoted the best powers of his vigorous 
and capacious mind to this subject, and he appeared to grasp 
and realize it as an object of the highest public utility, and 
worthy of his noblest ambition." (Hosack, pp. 383, 384.) 

On the second day of July, 1810, the Commissioners all met 
at the Surveyor-General's office in Albany. (Campbell's Life 
of Clinton, p. 30.) Mr. DeWitt having engaged Mr. Geddes to 
attend them as surveyor from Utica, to show them the route he 
had reported in favor of, Gouverneur Morris and General Van 
Rensselaer deternflned to make the trip by land; the other 
Commissioners, except General North, by the line of the rivers 
in boats, as far as Geneva. The party in boats embarked on 
the fourth day of July, from Schenectady, and toiled up the 
Mohawk to Utica, making observations as they progressed, in 
regard to the river. On the tenth day of the month the Board 
were all present at a meeting in Utica, and there they met the 
surveyor. On July 12th the Commissioners held a meeting at 
Rome, to make their final arrangements for the exploration. 
Here their work really began, for this was the dividing point 
of the routes by Lake Ontario, and directly across the country. 
All east of this summit had been surveyed by the Western 
Lock Navigation Company, and had been used from the earli- 
est period in which the country had been known. At this im- 
portant meeting Mr. Morris gave his views in regard to the in- 
terior route. " He was for breaking down the mound of Lake 
Erie, and letting out the waters to follow the level of the coun- 
try, so as to form a sloop navigation with the Hudson, without 
any aid from any other water." (Campbell's Life, p. 54.) 

This shows what was meant by the expression used by Mr. 


Morris in 1803, in his conversation with Mr. DeWitt — "tapping 
Lake Erie." Mr. Clinton records this announcement of the 
senior Commissioner, in his Journal, but makes no comments. 
Though Mr. Morris had been considering the subject of a 
water communication from the great lakes to the Hudson, ever 
since 1777 (Hosack, p. 250), and had visited the canals of Eu- 
rope to gather information, he had not arrived at any true con- 
ception of what the face of the country would permit of being 
done, and it is not strange that Mr. DeWitt should have called 
his scheme a "romantic" thing. The surveyor, who had for six 
years been gathering facts and making examinations of the 
country, knew that such, a scheme was utterly impracticable. 
Long after this, in 1829, Mr. Geddes said, in a published let- 
ter, " I had great opportunities for being acquainted with Mr. 
Morris' canal notions. His great desire to lessen lockage prob- 
ably suggested the idea of passing across the country south of 
Lake Ontario." 

From Rome the Commissioners adjourned to meet at Gen- 
eva. Oswego was visited, and the party retraced their way to 
Three-River Point, and thence up the Seneca River to Cayuga 
and Seneca lakes, arriving at Geneva on July 24th, where they 
found a letter from that part of the company that had gone by 
land, promising to meet them on the Niagara River. 

The parties that explored the rivers consisted of Messrs. 
Clinton, DeWitt, Eddy, North and Porter, Commissioners, and 
Geddes, Surveyor. 

This journey was taken at no little hazard to health at this 
season of the year. Great pains were taken to protect the 
party from malaria, and only one or two of the number exper- 
ienced much injury from the deadly fevers that then made 
these rivers of so bad repute. 

At Geneva the boats were sold, and carriages procured. 
From this place the party went to view the confluence of Mud 
Creek and the Canandaigua Outlet at Lyons. Mr. Clinton says 
in his Journal that on the twenty-seventh of July they "crossed 


the Irondequoit Creek at Mann's Mills, where Mr. Geddes pro- 
poses a great embankment for his canal, from the Genesee 
River to the head waters of Mud Creek. He crosses Ironde- 
quoit Creek here, in order to obtain the greatest elevation of 
ground on the other side." (Campbell, p. in.) 

The Genesee River was carefully observed at the point 
where Rochester now stands; and then the party went on 
westward by the Ridge Road, and arrived at Lewiston at the 
end of the month, and on the second day of the month were 
joined by Morris and Van Rensselaer. 

On the third of August a meeting was held at Chippewa, at 
which they gave Mr. Geddes instructions to take levels and 
distances on a variety of points, and adjourned to meet in the 
City of New York. (Campbell, p. 132.) 

On the fifth ot August Mr. Clinton says they were at Buffalo, 
which he describes as a place of great resort. All persons that 
travel to the Western States and Ohio, from the Eastern States, 
and all that visit the Falls of Niagara, come this way. The 
village, he said, "contained from thirty to forty houses, * * 
five lawyers and no church." (Campbell, pp. 136, 137.) 

At Black Rock the party broke up, leaving Mr. Geddes to 
commence his surveys. 

Mr. Geddes' first business was to find, if such a place ex- 
isted, a depression in the range of lands that bounded the Val- 
ley of the Tonawanda Creek on its north side — through which 
the waters of Lake Erie might be carried without too deep cut- 
ting to be admissible. In this he was entirely succesful. 

On the second day of March, i8ti, the Commissioners made 
their first report, drawn up by their President, Mr. Morris. 
They reported against the Lake Ontario route, giving such 
good reasons for so doing, that henceforth only enemies of the 
canal urged its adoption. 

In reference to an inland navigation the Commissioners say, 
that they "beg leave to refer for information to the annexed 
reports and maps of Mr. James Geddes. * * * From these 


it is evident that such navigation is practicable. Whether the 
route he sketched out will hereafter be pursued — whether a bet- 
ter may not be found — and other questions subordinate to those, 
can only be solved at a future time. (Canal Laws, p. 52.) 

The Commissioners go on to give a general view of the 
country, and propose a canal from Lake Erie to the Hudson 
with an average descent of six inches per mile. This was Mr. 
Morris' idea of a canal, and to carry it out he was willing to 
make the enormous embankments that would be required to 
cross the valleys of the Genesee, twenty-six feet high, Seneca 
eighty-three feet, and Cayuga one hundred and thirty feet. He 
estimated the cost of such a canal from the Niagara River to 
the Hudson at only five million dollars. 

One valuable suggestion of this report will forever remain of 
controlling force. They protest against any private individuals 
or company owning this canal — urging that it would prevent 
cheap transportation. 

On. the eighth day of May, 181 1, a law was passed adding to 
the Commission Robert R. Livingston and Robert Fulton, and 
giving power to employ engineers and make further surveys, 
and to make application to the National and State Govern- 
ments for aid to execute the great work. Fifteen thousand 
dollars were appropriated. 

On the fourteenth day of March, 1812, the Commissioners 
made their second report, in which they say they have met 
with no success in their application to other States and the 
National Government for aid; and say that, having once 
offered the canal to the Government and the offer not having 
been accepted, the State is at liberty to consult and pursue the 
maxims of policy, and derive for itself the benefits of the tolls 
that may justly be collected. They say that they have con- 
tinued their surveys, and quote from a letter of the English 
engineer, Mr. Weston: " From the perspicuous topographical 
description and neat plan and profile of the route of the con- 
templated canal, I entertain little doubt of the practicability of 


the measure." (Canal Laws, vol. 1, pp. 81, 82.) These maps 
and profiles were made by Mr. Geddes, and sent to England 
for the opinion of the then most eminent engineer of that 
country. In this report Mr. Morris abandons his idea of an 
• inclined plane east of the Seneca outlet. The estimated cost 
of a canal is raised to $6,000,000. 

In November, 181 1, Judge Benjamin Wright, of the Village 
of Rome, who had been in the service of the Western Inland 
Lock Navigation Company as an engineer, was employed to 
make a survey of the north side of the Mohawk River. His 
report demonstrated the impracticability of a canal along that 
river having a uniform descent of six inches to the mile. (Canal 
Laws, vol. 1, pp. 53 l -557-) 

The Commissioners had now in their service two men who 
afterwards became eminent as engineers, and of whom it may 
with truth be said, they were the fathers, in this country, of a 
new liberal profession; and that of the great number of able 
civil engineers that have succeeded them, none have excelled 
them. But of the capacity of these two men the Commission- 
ers and the public generally had not become informed, and the 
report of 1812 calls them surveyors, and dwells on the impor- 
tance of securing the services of a "capable engineer of the 
first talents, tried integrity and approved experience" After- 
wards, in 1 82 1, the Commissioners say that to these two men 
the State is mostly indebted for the manner in which they dis- 
charged their duties — and that they have been found equal to 
the high trusts confided to them. (Canal Laws, vol. 2, p. 23.) 

To the fact that the Commissioners for many years expected 
to put the canal in charge of an engineer of European reputa- 
tion, we may ascribe the practice that very early grew up, of 
not giving the reports of what they called their "surveyors" 
to the public. The reports of the engineers were generally 
used by the Commissioners to furnish materials that in the 
more imposing name of the Commission, were laid before 
the Legislature. 


On the nineteenth day of June, 1812, an important law was 
passed, authorizing the Commissioners to purchase all the 
rights and interests of the Western Inland Lock Navigation 
Company, with certain provisos, and to borrow the sum of five 
millions of dollars, to be used in the construction of the canal. 

On the eighth day of March, 18 14, the Commissioners re- 
ported that they had appointed an English engineer who was 
soon to be at work ascertaining the best line for the canal from 
Lake Erie to the Hudson; and that they have caused further 
investigations to be made up to the last summer, when they 
were suspended in consequence of the war. In this report 
they express a desire not to be held as committed exclusively to 
a canal descending according to the level of the country, like 
an inclined plane. (Canal Laws, vol. 1, p. T05.) 

On the fifteenth day of April, 1814, the law of 1812, author- 
izing the borrowing of five million dollars, was repealed. The 
war with Great Britain then absorbed all thoughts and all en- 
ergies; and, while it continued, all efforts for a canal were aban- 
doned, and the project slept until, in the fall of 1815, a move- 
ment was made in the City of New York by Mr. Clinton, Judge 
Piatt and Mr. Eddy. Cards of invitation were sent to about 
one hundred men to meet at the City Hall, to consult as to the 
best measures to be adopted. William Bayard was chairman 
and John Pintard secretary. 

Judge Piatt made a speech, and urged the formal abandon- 
ment of the plan of an inclined plane, and the appointment of 
a committee to prepare and circulate a memorial to the Legis- 
lature in favor of the canal. Mr. Clinton was put at the head 
of this committee, and associated with him were Thomas Eddy, 
Cadwallader D. Colden and John Swartwout. Mr. Clinton 
drew the memorial, with his wonderful ability, showing a per- 
fect knowledge of the subject, with a sagacious discernment of 
its beneficial results to the State and to the Nation. (Piatt in 
Hosack's Memoir, pp. 3S5-6.) 

This was a signal for a concerted movement along the whole 


line. Great meetings were held at Albany, Utica, Onondaga, 
Geneva, Canandaigua and Buffalo. The meeting in Onondaga 
was held on the twenty-third day of February, 1816, and was 
presided over by James Geddes, and its memorial was drawn 
by Joshua Forman. It was signed by over three thousand pe- 
titioners. (Clark's Onon., vol. 2, p. 59.) At the meeting in 
Canandaigua Colonel Troup presided, and Gideon Granger, 
John Greig, John Nicholas, Nathan N. Howell and Myron 
Holly took active part in its proceedings. This agitation led 
to more than one hundred thousand petitioners asking the 
Legislature to at once go on with the construction of the canal. 

On the eighth day of March, 1816, the Commissioners made 
their next report, and in this they call on the Legislature to 
furnish means to pay a professional engineer; and say that 
there are so few competent persons in Europe that there is 
every inducement to employ one of our own countrymen, if the 
necessary scientific and practical knowledge can be found. 

The negotiations with Mr. Weston, who had acted as con- 
sulting engineer, and as such had examined the maps and pro- 
files of Mr. Geddes, had failed. He had been offered a salary 
of seven thousand dollars a year to leave England and come 
and take the direction of the construction of the canal. At 
last he gave a final refusal, saying he only declined the great- 
est honor ever offered him because of age and family matters. 
Thus the Commissioners were forced to employ native and 
New York talent. 

The report of 1816 says nothing about inclined planes; and 
it is not signed by Mr. Morris, as Mr. Colden (p. 45) suggests, 
for this reason. 

Much surveying had been done, out of deference to Mr. 
Morris' views (Personal Communications from Mr. Geddes), 
his tenacity being very great. But the measure had passed 
beyond his control; and with his influence passed away the 
idea that a foreign engineer must have the direction of the 
location and construction of our canals. 


Though the war had checked the enterprise for a while, it 
had conclusively shown the importance of its success. The 
want of a practicable communication from the seaboard to the 
lakes was grievously felt. It has been said that at one time 
the cost of transportation of cannon from Albany to the lakes 
was twice, and more than twice, their first cost. (Colden, p. 42.) 

The flood of petitions poured on the Legislature was an- 
swered by the passage, on the seventeenth day of April, 18 16, 
of "An Act to provide for the improvement of the internal 
navigation of this State." 

The joint committee of the Senate and Assembly, by Mr. Jacob 
Rutzen Van Rensselaer, made their report, on the twenty-first 
day of March ; and they embraced in it statements from Mr. Ged- 
des of the character of the route from Lake Erie to the Seneca 
River, and of Mr. Wright, from the Seneca River to the Hudson. 

The report of the committee, embracing the communica- 
tions of these engineers, was strongly in favor of immediately 
commencing the work. After a very long discussion, this bill 
was so amended as to provide for the making of surveys and 
the gathering of information in regard to the whole cost, not 
only of the Erie Canal, but of a canal along the Hudson from 
tide-water to Lake Champiain. But no authority was given to 
commence the work. 

The Commission was somewhat altered by the law of 1S16; 
Mr. Morris, General Peter B. Porter and Simeon DeWitt, of 
the original Commission, were left off; and some new names 
added. — so that the Commission as newly constituted consisted 
of Stephen Van Rensselaer, DeWitt Clinton, Samuel Young, 
Joseph Ellicott and Myron Holley. Mr. Morris was doubtless 
left off in consequence of the difficulties that had grown out 
of the drawing of the last report. That Mr. Morris felt the 
injury that was being done him, appears from his note dated 
March 9, 1816, which was published in the American in April, 
1819. He says: "I have an ardent wish that the canal may 
be made; but so humble is my ambition, that I am content 


that the reputation of having imagined, proposed, and carried 
it into effect, be given to any person." Could this blow have 
been deferred four months, he would have been beyond its 
reach, for by that time he was in his grave. General Porter was 
concerned in determining the boundary line between the United 
States and the British Possessions — he being Commissioner for 
our Government. • 

Twenty thousand dollars were appropriated to carry out the 
Canal Law of 18 16. 

In 1814, the Canal Commissioners had proposed the Cham- 
plain Canal; and by 1816 it had become evident to the friends 
of the Erie Canal that they must combine the Northern Canal 
with their own to get the necessary strength in the Legislature: 
and thus the projects were united. 

On the seventeenth day of May, 1816, the Commissioners 
met at New York, and appointed Mr. Clinton, President, Mr. 
Young, Secretary, and Mr. Holley, Treasurer; and on the 
seventeenth day of February, 1817, they made their first report, 
from which it appears that Mr. Ellicott, having for his engineer 
William Peacock, made a careful exploration of the route that 
he had favored from Buffalo to the Genesee River, by way of 
the summit between Tonawanda Creek and Black Creek; — 
that Mr. Geddes took a point eleven miles up the Tonawanda 
Creek and followed his route, keeping below the level of Lake 
Erie, and leading its waters as far east as the Seneca River, 
where his section terminated. Of this section, thus marked 
out, the Commissioners say, it has a level of sixty-nine miles 
and fifty-one and one-half chains; and they speak of it as hav- 
ing other great advantages. 

The middle section of the canal extended from the Seneca 
River to Rome, and was put under the charge of Mr. Benjamin 
Wright. The eastern section, extending from Rome to the 
Hudson River, was put under Mr. Charles C. Broadhead as en- 
gineer. The Northern Canal had for its engineer Lewis Garin. 

As has been stated, all efforts to secure the services of the 


English engineer, Mr. Weston, having failed, the Commission- 
ers were in great doubt as to the best course to pursue. Un- 
der these circumstances, Mr. Geddes and Mr. Wright, having 
consulted with each other, appeared before the Board, and ex- 
pressed their confidence in their ability to locate and construct 
the canals, but expressed a strong desire that the Commissioners 
should feel a like confidence, if they were to be entrusted with the 
responsibility. (Personal Communication from James Geddes.) 
Most fortunately for the State, the Commissioners gave these 
engineers that confidence. But in so doing they encountered 
the censures of the enemies of the canals, in and out of legis- 
lative halls. On the Assembly floor, it was tauntingly asked, 
" Who is this James Geddes, and who is this Benjamin Wright, 
that the Commissioners have trusted with this responsibility — 
what canals have they ever constructed? What great public 
works have they accomplished ?" But, really, the Commission- 
ers had no alternative — and now it is easy to see that the course 
adopted was much wiser than to have entrusted the canals to 
the keeping of any one man, as would have been the case had 
the efforts made to secure Mr. Weston been successful. 

To add still more to these difficulties in regard to the engi- 
neering, it was said in high places, by men who claimed much 
knowledge on such subjects, that no confidence could be placed 
in an ordinary engineer's spirit level for laying out long lines 
of canal, and that there was no possibility of running a line for 
the long levels, that was not liable to be erroneous to the whole 
depth of the canal. ' So much annoyance did these cavilers 
produce, that in the next year it was deemed expedient that in 
order to settle that matter a full test should be made. It was de- 
cided that Mr. Geddes should start at a given point on the canal 
line at Rome, and carry a level along the road to the east end 
of Oneida Lake; and taking the height of the lake while the 
water was tranquil, that he should then connect by a level the 
Oneida with Onondaga Lake; after which carry a level from 
that lake to the canal line; thence to work east, laying off 


sections along the canal line. This he did, and laid out nine 
miles towards Rome. Mr. Wright started from the same 
point in Rome, and carried the line westward until he came to 
the stakes set by Mr. Geddes. The levels of these two engi- 
neers, which embraced a circuit of nearly one hundred miles^ 
differed from each other less than an inch and a half! (Canal 
Laws, vol. 1, pp. 369, 370, and Personal Communication.) The 
publication of the result of this test level put an end to much 
of the talk of pretenders to scientific knowledge. 

The report of the Commissioners in March, 1817, was very 
elaborate, and was made up chiefly from the reports of the engi- 
neers, and without giving them any credit; but so drawn as to 
make only the Commissioners appear to the public (see Mr. 
Wright's letter in Hosack's Memoir, p. 504); and this continued 
to be henceforth the uniform practice of the Commissioners. 

On the fifteenth day of April, 1817, the canal policy of this 
State was finally established by law. The law was supported 
in the Assembly with great ability by many members, and op- 
posed as desperately by others. The eminent Elisha Williams, 
then a member from Columbia County, broke over the claims 
of local interests and gave the bill a support that was decisive. 
" He appealed to the members from New York City, who were 
almost to a man hostile to the project. ' If,' said he, turning to 
a leading member of that delegation, 'if the canal is to be a 
shower of gold, it will fall upon New York; if a river of gold, 
it will flow into her lap.' " (Hosack, p. 450.) 

In the Senate, Mr. Martin Van Buren's support was as effi- 
cient as that of Mr. W T illiams in the Assembly. He insisted 
that the facts were then fully ascertained, and that the time 
had come to commence the work. So marked was the effect 
of Mr. Van Buren's speech, that when he sat down, Mr. Clinton, 
who had been a listener in the Senate Chamber, "breaking 
through that reserve which political collisions had created, ap- 
proached him and expressed his thanks for his exertions, in the 
most flattering terms." (Hosack, p. 453.) 


The law had still to pass the ordeal of the Council of Revi- 
sion. Judge Piatt, who had become one of the members of 
that body, gives the following account of its action. The 
Council consisted of Lieutenant and Acting Governor Tayler, 
Chancellor Kent, Chief-Justice Thompson, Judges Yates and 
Piatt. After the bill had been read, the President called on 
the Chancellor for his opinion. He said he had given very 
little attention to the subject; that it appeared to him a gigan- 
tic project, which would require the wealth of the United 
States to accomplish; that it had passed the Legislature by 
small majorities, after a desperate struggle; and he thought it 
inexpedient to commit the State in such a vast undertaking 
until public opinion could be better united in its favor. Chief- 
Justice Thompson said he cherished no hostility to the canal, 
and that he would not enquire as to the majorities; as the Leg- 
islature had agreed to the measure he would be inclined to 
leave the responsibility with them; but he said the bill gave 
arbitrary powers to the Commissioners over private rights, 
without proper guards, and he therefore opposed the bill. 
Judge Yates was a decided friend of the canal, and voted for 
the bill. Judge Piatt was also ardent in its favor. The Lieu- 
tenant-Governor "panted with honest zeal to strangle the in- 
fant Hercules in its birth by his casting vote in the negative." 
A warm discussion arose, but a more temperate examination 
of the bill obviated in some measure the objections of the 
Chancellor and Chief-Justice. "Vice-President Daniel D. 
Tompkins, late Governor of the State, came into the Council 
Chamber and familiarly took a seat, and joined in the argument, 
which was informal and desultory. He expressed a decided 
opinion against the bill, and among other reasons, he stated 
that the late peace with Great Britain was a mere truce; that 
we should undoubtedly have a renewed war with that country, 
and that, instead of wasting the credit and resources of the 
State on this chimerical project, we ought immediately to em- 
ploy all the revenue and credit of the State, in providing ar- 


senals, arming the militia, erecting fortifications and preparing 
for war. " Do you think so, sir ?" said Chancellor Kent. 
H Yes, sir," was the reply; '* England will never forgive us for 
our victories on the land and on the ocean and the lakes; and 
my word for it, we shall have another war with her within two 
years." The Chancellor, then rising from his seat, with great 
animation declared, u If we are to have war, or to have a canal, 
I am in favor of the canal, and I vote for the bill." Thus Piatt, 
Yates and Kent out-voted Tayler and Thompson, and the bill 
became a law. 

So narrow are the chances on which great measures sometimes 
turn. The accidental coming into the Council Chamber of the 
Vice-President of the United States, to oppose an already lost 
measure by using, for his purposes, an unfortunate argument, 
made no less a man than the great lawgiver of this continent 
change his views, and with his change the fortunes of the bill 
were changed. The Chancellor, looking from his political 
standpoint, undoubtedly thought that if the ability of this 
State was taxed to the utmost in constructing a canal, the 
dominant party would find more difficulty in involving the na- 
tion in war, than it would have, if our finances were embar- 
rassed; and that with the Vice-President " the wish was father 
to the thought." 

This law, that was passed with so much difficulty, created 
the Board known as the " Commissioners of the Canal Fund," 
consisting of the Lieutenant-Governor, the Comptroller, the 
Attorney-General, the Surveyor-General, the Secretary of State 
and the State Treasurer, whose duty it is "to manage to the 
best advantage all things belonging to said fund." 

The Canal Commissioners were authorized to commence 
constructing the canals from lakes Erie and Champlain to the 
Hudson River, by opening communication by canals and locks 
between the Mohawk and Seneca rivers, and between Lake 
Champlain and the Hudson River, receiving from the Commis- 
sioners of the Canal Fund the moneys necessary. 


A fund was created, by imposing a duty of twelve and a half 
cents per bushel upon all salt to be manufactured in the west- 
ern district of this State; a tax of one dollar on every passen- 
ger that should make a trip of over one hundred miles on any 
steamboat on the Hudson River, and half that sum for any 
distance less than one hundred miles and over thirty miles; 
the proceeds of all lotteries which should be drawn in this 
State, after the sums then granted on them were paid; all the 
net proceeds from the Western Inland Navigation Company 
property which was to be purchased; all the donations made, 
or to be made; all the duties upon sales at auction, after de- 
ducting $33,500 annually, which sum was appropriated to the 
Hospital, Economical School, Orphan Asylum, and foreign 
poor in the City of New York. 

Besides these several means of revenue, $250,000 were to be 
raised by levying a tax on all the lands and real estate lying 
along the route of said canals, and within twenty-five miles 
thereof on each side; the assessment to be made by the Canal 
Commissioners according to the benefit which, in their opinion, 
will be derived from the canals. 

This financial scheme proved eminently successful. The 
salt duties alone paid towards the canals more than* $3,000,- 
000 — which is considerably more than one-third of the cost of 
both of them — and by September, 1833, tne sa ^ ar, d auction 
duties had paid $5,812,621. (State Engineer's Report, 1S62, 
p. 139.) The tax on steamboat passengers was suspended the 
next year, the tax on lands along the canals was never collected, 
and the lotteries never paid anything. 

George Tibbetts, then a Senator from Troy, was the author 
of this financial scheme, and to him belongs the great credit 
that has so justly been awarded to it. (Hosack. See Stone's 
and Tibbetts' account.) 

Thus has been traced from the suggestion of Gouverneur 
Morris to Simeon DeWitt, in 1803, to the year 1S17, the pro- 
ject of uniting Lake Erie and tide-water on the Hudson River; 


for thus long was the State in maturing anything that can 
justly be called a canal policy; and from so small a begin- 
ning did this mighty policy spring. 

The time was ripe; and the men just fitted to do the various 
things that were necessary to be done, most fortunately stood 
ready for the duty. Gouverneur Morris is, beyond all doubt, 
entitled to the credit of having made the suggestion of the 
" interior route." This suggestion was seized by a man who, 
though of few words, was persevering, and who by hard labor 
accomplished great results. 

It has been asked why Mr. Geddes, being a member of the 
Legislature when Mr. DeWitt told him of Mr. Morris' "roman- 
tic " scheme, did not move for some legislative action. The 
answer is, he had then had no time to mature his views, nor 
had he yet gathered such facts as were necessary to justify 
legislative action. To appropriate all the knowledge of the 
topography of the country that then existed, was his first work. 
Correspondence with land agents and surveyors in the Western 
part of the State was resorted to, and so successful had been 
his inquiries that when, in 1808, Mr. DeWitt issued his instruc- 
tions as to a survey, Mr. Ellicott had pointed out a route from 
the Niagara River to the Genesee — which, if abetter one could 
not be found, it was thought would answer for the then sup- 
posed wants of a canal — so that the whole question was very 
soon narrowed down to the country between the Genesee 
River and the headwaters of Mud Creek. By 1S07, the time 
had come for legislative action, and few men have ever lived 
in this State better calculated to procure such action than 
Joshua Forman. The only apparent difficulty was in his be- 
longing to the Federal party in politics, and living in a county 
strongly Democratic, and thus as a partisan he could not be 
elected; and to secure his services it was necessary to form a 
new party — a canal party. This was done so well that the 
then Democratic member of Congress, Dr. Kirkpatrick, as well 
as many others prominent in that party, ardently supported 


the movement. Forman was successful in the Legislature, and 
the survey of 1808 was the result; and this survey led to the 
appointment of a Board of Canal Commissioners, having for 
one of its members DeWitt Clinton, who personally informed 
himself of the topographical formation of the country, and 
thus became convinced of the practicability of a canal: and 
holding the position that he did in political influence in the 
State, he was able to do more than it has at any other time 
been granted to one man to do for the glory and prosperity of 
our State. 

In a Government constituted like ours, no great measure can 
be successful without the concurrence of the efforts of many 
influential men; and now that we look back on this, we can 
not but see that, while to no one man can we give all the 
credit, there is enough to divide, and give an ample share to 
every one of those who were instrumental in bringing every- 
thing to a successful conclusion. 

No more fitting words can be chosen to close this paper 
than those used by Mr. Morris in the Commissioners' Report 
of 1812: 

" The life of an individual is short. The time is not distant 
when those who make this report will have passed away. But 
we can fix no term to the existence of a State; and the first 
wish of a patriot's heart is, that his own may be eternal. But 
whatever limit may have been assigned to the duration of New 
York, by those eternal decrees which established the heavens 
and the earth, it is hardly to be expected that she will be 
blotted from the list of political societies before the effects 
here predicted shall have been sensibly felt. And even when, 
by the flow of that perpetual stream which bears all human in- 
stitutions away, our Constitution shall be dissolved and our 
laws be lost, still the descendants of our children's children 
will remain. The same mountains will stand, the same rivers 
flow; new moral combinations will be formed on the old phys- 
ical foundations and the extended line of remote posterity; 


yet, after the lapse of thousands of years, and the ravages of 
repeated revolutions, — when the records of history shall have 
been obliterated, and the tongue of tradition have converted 
the shadowy remembrance of ancient events into childish tales 
of miracle, — this national work shall remain. It shall bear 
testimony to the genius, the learning, the industry and intelli- 
gence of the present age." 



Judge Oliver R. Strong, now eighty-five years old, still bale and hearty, 
in the full possession of all his faculties, who for nearly half a century 
held important offices — among them Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, 
Member of Assembly, and County Treasurer — and who all his life has com- 
manded the respect of all men, has at various times reminded me of a con- 
versation that occurred early in 1S04, immediately after Mr. Geddes had re- 
turned from serving in the Legislature of that year, at Onondaga Hill, then 
the county seat; naming as present Dr. Walter Cotton, General John C. 
Ellis, Warren Ellis, and others. Mr. Geddes told the gentlemen present, of 
the suggestion that he had received in Albany of a route for a canal across 
the country direct from Lake Erie, avoiding Lake Ontario entirely; and 
urged its importance, and the probability of the practicability of such a scheme. 
Judge Strong lias written me a letter saying that he well remembers the elec- 
tion of Judge Forman in 1S07; that Forman was well known to be in favor 
of a canal: saying, " I know many of the party opposed to him politically, 
voted for him under the belief that he would render essential service in pro- 
moting the object which was near the hearts of all at that time; namely, the 
canal." Judge Strong voted at that election, and he verifies the date of the 
conversation of Mr. Geddes in regard to the information he had brought from 
Albany, by circumstances that leave no doubt as to the accuracy of his mem- 
ory. In Mr. Geddes* letter to Dr. Hosack (page 262 of the Memoir) he 
said: "When Mr. Morris' project of constructing a canal across the coun- 
try the whole distance from Lake Erie to the Hudson, was made known and 
discussed in the interior, the scheme was adopted there, and spread with in- 
conceivable rapidity." 



In 1846, Judge Forman, feeble with old age, made a journey from his then 
home in North Carolina, to visit his friends yet alive in Onondaga. His 
presence here produced much excitement, which found some expression in a 
public dinner given him at the Syracuse House. At this dinner speeches 
were made, and the Judge's services to the State and this locality furnished a 
fruitful topic. Thomas Wheeler, then a resident of Salina, wrote a letter for 
publ cation in the Onondaga Democrat, from which the following extract is 

" In April, 1807, Judge Forman called on me at Salina, and wanted me 
to support him for Member of Assembly, and urged as an inducement that 
he wanted to make a proposition for a canal from Lake Erie to the Hudson; 
and also urged the Duke of Bridgewater's canal and the great increase of the 
salt trade after it was finished. He alluded to the remark of Thomas Jeffer- 
son, that there was money in the United States Treasury which might be ap- 
propriated to roads and canals; and took the ground that there was no other 
place where a canal could be made, on account of the Alleghany Mountains, 
in the United States, but through the State of New York, to connect the 
great lakes with tide-water. He also stated that Gouverneur Morris had 
written from the banks of Lake Erie that the money that Great Britain had 
expended in one campaign in war would make a ship canal from where he 
stood to tide-water; that the canal, if made, must pass near where he then 
sat; that it should be a State concern and not a political one; and went into 
a calculation of the expense, which, with wooden locks, we made less than 
$5,000,000. Thus he urged me for more than an hour; but I refused. He 
then started to go away, and when near the door turned round and asked me 
if I ever stood on Caneseraga Hills, and observed that the country north, east 
and west was level as far as the eye could reach. I told him I had; and then 
I thought, if a canal was only made from Rome to Cayuga Lake, it would be 
of great advantage to this section of the State, and so I agreed to support 
him, and thought the business closed. But he was not satisfied. He wanted 
to see William Kirkpatrick, the Superintendent of the Onondaga Salt Springs. 
The Doctor came, and much the same arguments and calculations were used 
and gone through with; at the close of which, Doctor K. raised both hands 
and said, with much emphasis, " T will support you." Soon after, I gave a 
boy three dollars to attend the election in another town, and see that each 
elector had a ticket with Joshua Forman's name on it, which I think was the 
first money ever paid for starting the Erie Canal." 

To give further information in regard to the election of Judge Forman in 


1807, the statement of Mr. Ira A. Gillchres, who still lives in the town of 
Salina, is added to this note. 

In 1S06, coming from Whitesboro, Oneida County, with Captain William 
Gillchres.his father, Judge Forman and others, from attending a lawsuit, in 
which Capt. Gillchres was a party, and Judge Forman was his lawyer, they 
rested on top of Caneseraga Hill. Judge Forman pointed out the level coun- 
try north of them, and said to Captain G., — " Is not that a fine plain ? The 
time is not far distant when you will see vessels sailing along that plain; 
you will see the waters of the Hudson and Lake Erie mingled together." 
Explaining his views at length, Captain G. became convinced of their value, 
and said to the Judge that he should go to the Legislature and get an appro- 
priation for surveys. To this the reply was, that, being a Federalist, he 
could not expect to be elected. To this Captain G. said he thought that his 
influence in the Democratic party might overcome that difficulty. Mr. Ira A. 
Gillchres goes on to say, that the political movement thus suggested by his 
father was made, and that the ticket at the election was headed " Canal 
Ticket," and that from Captain Gillchres' tavern in Salina these tickets were 
sent over the country. The heading of the tickets was designed to give 
strength to the movement. This same Ira A. Gillchres was one of Mr. Ged- 
des' party in his survey in 1S08. 

This long note is inserted that there may be no doubt as to the fact that 
the election in 1S07 turned in Onondaga County on the question of a canal 
across the country (not by Lake Ontario), as the whole matter has been ignored 
by the claimants to the honor of first proposing the interior route, without 
having received the suggestion as coming from Gouverneur Morris. 


In 1829 appeared Dr. Hosack's Memoir of DeWitt Clinton. In the Ap- 
pendix (page 301, Sec), Mr. Hawley sets up the claim to have been the orig- 
inator of the overland route; and again, in the Monroe Democrat, in 1S35, he 
pressed his claim on the public. To the Democrat Mr. Geddes wrote under 
date of November 16th, 1S35, and said: " In a letter written February, 1S22, 
by Simeon DeWitt, Esq., the late Surveyor-General, which letter has been 
published in the Edinburgh Encyclopedia, he >ays — ' The merit of tir>t start- 
ing the idea of a direct communication by water between Lake Erie and 
Hudson River, unquestionably belongs to Mr. Gouverneur Morns. The first 
suggestion I had of it was from him in 1S03/ * * Mr. DeWitt further 
remarks — ' Mr. Geddes says, when in company with Mr. Je^e Hawley it 
(the canal project) became a subject of conversation, which probably led to 
enquiries that induced Mr. Hawley to write the e>>ay> which afterwards ap- 


peared in newspapers, on the subject of carrying a canal from Lake Erie to 
Albany.' The above letter remained seven years unnoticed, until 1829, 
when Dr. Hosack's Memoir appeared, containing Mr. Hawley's letter." 
Mr. Geddes goes on to say: M Bound in the same boards was a letter to Dr. 
Hosack from me (p. 226), in which I say I have not the least doubt that the 
ideas of every one on the internal route project are traceable to the conver- 
sations in 1803, between DeWittand Morris. And was it not reasonable that 
no doubt should remain with me, seven years having passed away without the 
appearance of any gainsayer?" * * * "In writing to Dr. Hosack in 
1829, through precipitancy, not consulting dates which were at my hand, I 
blundered respecting the year when I saw Mr. Hawley in Geneva and in- 
formed him of Mr. Morris' canal project. Mr. Hawley says it was at 
Geneva, when i visiting his relathies with whom I boarded.' That this visit 
was in 1S05, and not in 1S06, can be proved by several persons now (1835) 
living, and by written records indisputable. In the Democrat of the thirteenth 
of October, Mr. Hawley says — "The idea occurred to me about the fifth of 
April, 1S05.' This was about two months after his interview with me. and 
not about ten months before, as he writes to Dr. Hosack." In Mr. Geddes' 
letter to Dr. Hosack, page 256, he says: " I have the most perfect recollec- 
tion of circumstances, time and place, when I informed Mr. Jesse Hawley 
of the project. * * * I had a few days before seen a map of the Gene- 
see River, from which I had received new ideas as to the probable track of 
such a canal; and finding in him a taste for such disquisitions, I conversed at 
length with him on the subject, and have no doubt but that I then informed 
him that the idea came from Mr. Morris." 


Since the foregoing paper on the " Origin of the Erie Canal " was read be- 
fore the Buffalo Historical Society, I have been favored by Gouverneur Morris, 
Esq., son of the projector of the interior route of the canal, with the oppor- 
tunity of a full examination of such papers as are still preserved, that were 
left by that extraordinary man. From 1S00, to within a few clays of his death^ 
in 1S16, he kept a diary, in which are entered, however, only such matters as 
related to farm operations, the state of the weather, and the journeys he made ; 
nor, except in rare instances, is there to be found any allusion to public events, 
or to public matters. Yet there were a few things that appeared worth re- 
producing here, as throwing light on some points discussed in the body of 
the paper. In 1803 Mr. Morris made a journey by way of Oneida and On- 
tario lakes to his lands in St. Lawrence County. At Three-River Point 
(the confluence of the Onondaga, Oneida and Seneca river-.), he appears to 


have been struck with the fact that the canal must follow along the line of 
these rivers and the Oneida Lake, as by so doing it would be lower than the 
Rome Summit; so he writes in his diary that it " should be taken from the 
head of Onondaga [Seneca?] River, and carried on the level as far east as it 
will go, and, if practicable, into the Mohawk River; then, in as direct a 
course as circumstances will permit, to Hudson's River, making locks as the 
descent may require. This canal should, I think, be five feet deep, and five- 
and-forty feet wide. A branch might easily be carried to Lake Ontario; the 
fittest harbor would be. I believe, at Oswego." This entry is dated Septem- 
ber 12, 1S03. On his way up he mentions the fact of having spent a night 
in Schenectady. This must have been the evening when, as related by 
Simeon DeWitt, he talked of " tapping Lake Erie" as he expressed himself, 
and "leading its waters, in an artificial river, directly across the country to 
Hudson's River." (Canal Laws, vol. 1. p. 39.) 

At Three-River Point, Mr. Morris saw that a branch might connect the 
grand canal with Lake Ontario and Oswego. But my principal object in in- 
troducing this extract was to show, that Mr. Morris was willing to conform to 
the face of the country, " making locks as the descent may require." This 
would indicate that he was not so wedded to an inclined plane as to have made 
it necessary to have left him off from a Commission that he had been at the 
head of until 1816. 

Among the papers was found the draft of a letter to Henry Latrobe, Esq., 
dated April 25, 1S10, informing him of the appointment of Commissioners 
and their proposed examinations. He says: " I hope the business may be 
effected in a proper manner, for it is, I believe, the most extensive theater 
for skill and industry which can be found on this globe. But I fear that our 
minds are not yet enlarged to the size of so great an object, and I am 
thoroughly persuaded that the attempt at, and still more the execution of, 
any little scheme, will probably prostrate, and certainly postpone, that which 
is alone worthy of notice." 

In July, 1S10, while performing his duty in exploring as Commissioner, 
Mr. Morris saw Mr. Ellicott at Batavia, and found him strongly in favor of 
the route near that place and by Allen's Creek to the Genesee River, and 
confident that a supply of water could be had for the summit level. Under 
the date of July 21, 1S10, he enters the following in his Journal: " We 
cross the Tonawanda Creek this morning, and the view of it renders calcu- 
lation unnecessary. Decidedly there is not water. At Van Deventer's. where 
we got breakfast, we met the representative of the county, who thinks there 
will be no difficulty in bringing a canal round the falls so as to use the water 
of Lake Erie. I am perfectly convinced that unless this can be done, every 
attempt at any useful navigation must fail." 


After Mr. Morris was dead, great efforts were made by certain parties -to 
show that when he wrote to Mr. Parish and talked to various persons in re- 
gard to ships sailing from London by the Hudson River to Lake Erie, he 
meant to have such ships go by Oswego through Lake Ontario, and then 
around the Falls of Niagara. His conversation with Mr. DeWitt. in 1803, 
out of which sprang the measures that led to the construction of the canal, 
appears to be a conclusive answer to such caviling; and I cannot see any 
reason to doubt the correctness of Governor Seward's declaration in his in- 
troduction to the Natural History of the State of New York (p. 86): "To 
Gouverneur Morris, history will assign the merit of first suggesting a 
direct and continuous communication from Lake Erie to the Hudson." 
Cadwallader D. Colden, in his elaborate Memoir, giving the history of the 
canal and of the celebration of its completion, takes ground (in the body of 
the work) against the claims of Mr. Morris to this credit; but in his Errata 
et Corrigenda, at the end of the volume, where few men have ever seen it, he 
has the following: " It is due to Mr. Morris to mention that since the Memoir 
was written the author has ascertained that when, in the year 1800, Mr. Morris 
suggested the practicability of enabling ships to sail from London into Lake 
Erie, and when in 1S03, he spoke of " tapping Lake Erie," he undoubtedly 
contemplated a water communication directly from that lake to the Hudson, 
and did not, as the Memoir supposes he might have done, refer to a com- 
munication by the Niagara Canal and Lake Ontario." Much more proof of 
the position I have taken as to Mr. Morris' claim might be added, but I for- 
bear, offering as an excuse for having given so much, that recently very 
groundless claims to this honor have been revived. 





Our Grand Erie Canal has been a prolific theme for 
statesmen and politicians, for orators and essayists, during more 
than half a century. The visions of wealth and greatness that 
would result from its construction, to our common country, and 
especially to our own State, which filled the mind of him who 
first published to the world the project of such a canal, have 
been eagerly adopted by those who became its advocates. The 
politician at the caucus, the legislator in the Capitol, and those 
occupying seats of authority, have been alike emulous of being 
regarded as its special champions. 

Considerations of political economy, and of political and 
commercial supremacy, in all their various phases, have been 
urged and repeated in favor of its original construction, and 
of its subsequent enlargement; and of yet further enlarging 
and perfecting its capacity, as the increase of its business and 
the wealth of the country — foretold by its projector — have de- 
monstrated to be necessary. 

It was not so from the beginning. 

The first promulgation of the project met with such derision 

that its author was deemed a visionary enthusiast, and the pub- 


lication of the project was nearly strangled at its birth. The 
first successful movement in regard to it in the Legislature was 
treated in much the same manner; a few hundred dollars being 
appropriated to defray the expenses of exploring, by the affirm- 
ative votes of some who declared that they voted for the small 
amount because it could not do any harm and might be pro- 
ductive of some good. And when, after long delay and pro- 
tracted opposition, and much of that opposition from the city 
which has derived a large share of its benefits, the Act of April 
15, 181.7, was passed by the Legislature, committing the State 
to the canal policy, the whole scheme narrowly escaped destruc- 
tion in the Council of Revision. 

Nor did opposition to the project disappear immediately after 
the State entered upon the momentous work; but the progress 
made by the judicious efforts of those charged with its manage- 
ment, and the far-seeing policy and self-denying labors of the 
chief executive officer of the State, gradually brought the scheme 
into general favor; and the story of the beginning, progress and 
•completion of the canal, will perpetuate honors to the memory 
of Clinton, so long as the waters of Erie shall flow into that 
channel of commerce. 

The celebration of the completion of the middle section, on the 
fourth of July, 1820, three years from the day of its commence- 
ment, was the culminating point where opposition ceased or 
was disarmed; and the resources of a united people were thence- 
forth devoted to the accomplishment of an enterprise which 
was expected greatly to increase the wealth and the happiness 
of all the people, and secure to the State, in all coming time, 
a high and controlling position in the trade and commerce oi 
the North American continent. 

But previous to this a disposition had been manifested to 
learn about the 4k Origin of the Canal," and who was its first 
projector, who had first proclaimed to tlje world the feasibility 
of such a project, had pointed out the route, had estimated the 
expense, had foretold the great and varied benefits that would 


result from it, and had urged the importance of it upon the at- 
tention of the public. 

Colonel Robert Troup, in the Geneva Gazette of December 
15, 18 1 9, writes: 

** The successful progress of the Erie Canal and the immense benefits likely 
to arise from its completion, have lately excited a laudable curiosity to know 
who was the projector of the canal policy in this State. A just regard to the 
reputation of the State, seems to require that the projector should be favored 
with some decisive proof of public gratitude." 

Colonel Troup, when writing in December, 18 19, maintained 
with much confidence that Elkanah Watson was the projector; 
but as Mr. Watson, in 1820, disclaimed being the projector of 
the Erie Canal, claiming only that he projected the lake canal 
policy which produced the Act of March, 1792, chartering the 
** Western Inland Lock Navigation Company," Colonel Troup, 
in his letter of February 8, 1822, addressed to the Hon. Brock- 
hoist Livingston, to quote his own language, abstains "from 
bestowing on Mr. Watson any credit for that sublime effort of 
human intellect which projected the canal route to Lake Erie;" 
and he adds, " As this sublime effort is pregnant with incal- 
culable benefits to the State, I bow with sentiments of profound 
respect and gratitude, to the man whose genius had the capacity 
to conceive and usher into public notice, the design of a work 
so stupendous." 

Various claims were put forth to the honor of being the first 
to " suggest " such a project, or being the first who had " talked 
of it," and for the honor of being its first " projector;" and 
it is not surprising, perhaps, that some claims of this character 
were made, which are not well supported by the acts and pro- 
mulgations of the person in whose behalf the claim is made. 

Many distinguished names are entitled to lasting honors for 
the services they rendered during the incipient movements and 
the whole progress of construction; and to none more, than to 
those who so successfully performed the essential part of en- 


In seeking for the facts on which the claim of being the " first 
projector" is to be sustained (if sustained at all), we necessarily 
look for what was said, or written, or done by the person; and 
his writings, or other promulgations, made known or recorded 
at the time of their occurrence, must be conclusive. And if 
any doubt exist in regard to his meaning, or as to what was in 
the mind of the person when making any particular expression, 
his subsequent writings on the same subject afford the best ex- 
planations of which they are susceptible. Especially will such 
evidences have a controlling influence in our minds when seek- 
ing for the truth, over statements made from memory only, 
after the decease of the person, and twenty or fifty years after 
the incident is stated to have occurred. 

The paper which I had the honor to read before this Society 
on the twenty-first of February, 1866, briefly notes or indicates 
the principal facts necessary to a solution of the question, Who 
was the first projector of the canal, showing that in the year 
1724, Cadwallader Colden suggested that there might be found 
a continuous inland water communication between the Oswego 
River and Lake Erie; that in 1797, General Philip Schuyler and 
an English engineer, William Weston, had " talked of " a water 
communication through the State to Lake Erie, keeping the in- 
terior, if it were practicable, which they doubted; showing also 
the facts and circumstances relied upon to sustain the claim 
made by friends of Gouverneur Morris, since his decease, that 
he was the "first projector;" also showing briefly the writings 
of Jesse Hawley on the subject, and the action of the Legisla- 
ture on the motion of Joshua Forman. 

The papers written by Jesse Hawley, and signed " Hercules." 
the first of which was published in Pittsburg, Penn., in the news- 
paper called the Commonwealth, on the fourteenth of January, 
1807, and subsequently in the Genesee Messenger, at Canan- 
daigua, in this State, beginning in October, 1S07, and extend- 
ing to fourteen numbers — some of which newspapers are now 
in the archives of this Society through the courtesy of the Hon. 


T. T. Flagler, of Lockport — are the first publications of the pro- 
ject for this canal. 

Those papers — after pointing out the feasibility of a canal on 
nearly the identical line now occupied by it, recommending its 
size to be one hundred feet wide and ten feet deep, estimating 
its cost with great accuracy, and in many ways urging public 
attention to its importance and the propriety of an actual sur- 
vey — proceed to point out important improvements in other 
States, some of which have since been constructed; among which 
are the Ohio Canal, the Wabash Canal, the St. Marie Canal to 
open navigation into Lake Superior, the Fox and Wisconsin 
rivers connection, the Illinois and Michigan Canal, the canal 
around the falls of the Ohio River, etc. 

Mr. Hawley originally " intended to deposit those papers in 
the archives of the office of the Secretary of State, in order 
to preserve the evidences of his claim to the first writings on 
the subject;" but they are, by his will, deposited with the His- 
torical Society of the City of New York. He writes, " I claim 
the original and the first publication of the overland route of 
the Erie Canal." 

Again Mr. Hawley writes in the Daily De?nocrat newspaper 
of Rochester, October 6, 1835, as follows: 

u To the Public. — The purport of the following letters will sufficiently ex- 
plain their object. While their originals are intended to be preserved, they 
are published at the present time to establish their authenticity hereafter, 
and also to give the present age an opportunity to rectify any supposed errors 
therein. In order to aid their circulation in this paper, extra copies will 
be sent to many public men and personal friends." 

The letters which followed contained various evidences of 
the correctness of his claim, and closed in the Daily Democrat 
of October 10, 1S35, with the following: 

" To Tlir. Pl'BLic. — I now reassert my claim to the original conception of 
the project of the overland route of the Erie Canal, * * * and 
also state that the imputations to the contrary, communicated to Dr. Ilosack 
by some of his correspondents, were altogether inaccurate, and must have 
originated in forgetfulness or misapprehension. I do not wish to be under- 


stood as saying that I was the first or the only person to conceive the idea. 
I merely mean to say that with me it was a native thought, without having 
been suggested or communicated to me by any person, and that I was the 
first person who wrote and published the project." 

Colonel Troup, in his letter to Brockholst Livingston, of 
February 8, 1822, already referred to, says: "In October, 
1807, Jesse Hawley commenced the publication in the Ontario 
Messenger, of a series of essays in favor of opening a canal to 
Lake Erie, which was the first public annunciation of the pre- 
sent system." 

Governor DeWitt Clinton writes: " The first hint on this sub- 
ject which I have seen in print was suggested by Jesse Haw. 
ley. * * * On the twenty-seventh of October, 1807, he 
commenced a series of essays on internal navigation, over the 
signature of 'Hercules,' in the Ontario Messenger, which ex- 
tended to fourteen numbers." And Governor Clinton said to 
Judge Benjamin Wright, that the essays of ' Hercules,' in the 
Ontario Messenger, were the first suggestions, in a tangible 
shape, which he could find of the origin of the canal. 

Elkanah Watson, writing in 1819, says: " I have not been 
able to trace any measure, public or private, tending towards 
this great enterprise (the Erie Canal), till the twenty-seventh 
of October, 1807, when an anonymous publication under the 
signature of 'Hercules' appeared in the Genesee Messcnger y 
which is attributed to Jesse Hawley, Esq. These valuable es- 
says continued through a course of fourteen weekly numbers, 
to March 2, 1808. They are evidently original, and they dis- 
play deep research and views vastly extended — indeed, they 
may be pronounced prophetic, in striking out nearly the track 
of the route of the canal which has since been adopted." 

Since the reading of the paper before this Society on the 
twenty-first of February, 1866, hereinbefore alluded to, excep- 
tions to the claims of Jesse Hawley have been made by George 
Geddes, Esq., who, in a paper read before this Society on the 
fourth of February, 1867, claims that Gouverneur Morris 


was the projector of the canal; and so confident is Mr. Ged- 
des in the correctness of his theory, that he seems to think 
it presumptuous for any one to " claim the honor of first pro- 
posing the interior route, without having received the sugges- 
tion as coming from Mr. Morris;" and that objecting to the 
claim made in behalf of Mr. Morris is "caviling." He also 
says that " recently, very groundless claims to this honor have 
been revived." 

The theory of Mr. Geddes is founded upon a letter from 
Governor Morgan Lewis to Hermanus Bleecker, dated May 
26, 1828; the letter from Mr. Morris to John Parish, dated De- 
cember 20, 1S00; the letter from Simeon DeWitt to William 
Darby, dated February 25, 1822; the letter from James Ged- 
des to William Darby, dated February 22, 1822; and the fact 
as stated, that "Mr. Morris was a projector; he had seen canals- 
in Europe, etc." 

The propositions of Mr. Geddes are ingeniously supported,. 
and with as much consistency, apparently, as could be exer- 
cised, while omitting all reference to Mr. Morris' writings, ex- 
cept the one letter already alluded to; and he builds up the 
following quadrangular column: that Mr. Morris told Mr. De- 
Witt of the project in 1803; that DeWitt told it to James Ged- 
des in 1804; that Mr. Geddes told it to Jesse Flawley in 1806, 
or, as Mr. Geddes afterwards states, in 1805; and says that James 
Geddes was so impressed with the statement he had heard from 
Mr. DeWitt, that he formed public opinion, until in 1S07, 
Joshua Forman was elected to the Assembly as a "canal 
man;" and to support the claim that Mr. Forman's election as a 
"canal man" was based on the idea of a direct overland canal 
to Lake Erie, Mr. Geddes quotes from the recollections of 
Judge Strong, now eighty-five years old, of what occurred in 
1804; from a letter written by Thomas Wheeler, in 1S46, giv- 
ing some of his recollections of occurrences in 1807; and some 
statements by Mr. Gillchres, giving his recollections of 1806. 
All these vague statements are from recollections of scenes 


many years previous, and but faint allusion to an overland 
canal is made in any of them. 

The promulgations of Mr. Morris do not sustain the claim 
that he was the projector of the Erie Canal. A correct inter- 
pretation of what he said and wrote fails to show that he had 
any conception Of such a project until the year 1810; when, as 
one of the seven Commissioners appointed that year to make 
explorations, in a consultacion of all the Commissioners at 
Rome, July 12, 1810, Mr. Morris expressed himself in favor of 
an overland canal. Mr. Geddes says, after relating this inci- 
dent, " Though Mr. Morris had been considering the subject 
of a water communication from the great lakes to the Hudson 
ever since 1777 (thirty-three years), and had visited the canals 
of Europe, he had not arrived at any true conception of what 
the face of the country would permit of being done." And 
Mr. Morris writes to Mr. Henry Latrobe, April 25, 1810, ad- 
vising of the appointment of those seven Commissioners, and 
adds: "I hope the business may be effected in a proper man- 
ner, * * * * but I fear our minds are not 
yet enlarged to the size of so great an object." 

The Commissioners had with them in that tour of explora- 
tion the essays of Mr. Hawley, signed " Hercules;" a long let- 
ter from Joseph Ellicott, giving information of the country be- 
tween the Niagara and Genesee rivers, with an explanatory 
map; and the report by James Geddes of his surveys in 180S, 
made in pursuance of the motion of Judge Forman; and it is 
probable that the thirty-three years' consideration of the sub- 
ject by Mr. Morris enabled him to perceive the value of those 
documents, and thus prompted him to put himself on record in 
favor of an overland canal to Lake Erie. 

An expression of Governor Seward, in the Introduction to 
his Natural History of New York, is quoted by Mr. Geddes and 
others, in support of the claim in behalf of Mr. Morris; but as 
Governor Seward takes a quotation from Mr. Morris' letter to 
John Parish, in December, 1S00, as the ground of his opinion, he 


adds no strength to the claim beyond that afforded by the letter. 

Cadwallader D. Colden, in his Memoirs of the canal, gives a 
brief and impartial statement of the views deduced from Mr. 
Morris' letter to John Parish, and from Mr. DeWitt's letter to 
William Darby; and comes to the conclusion that Mr. Morris 
contemplated only the route by Lake Ontario, with a ship 
canal around Niagara Falls, as provided by the Act of 1798, 
incorporating the Niagara Company. 

Under an "Errata" on a fly-leaf at the end of the volume, 
Mr. Colden says: " It is due to Mr. Morris to mention that 
si?ice the Memoir was written, the author has ascertained that 
when, in the year 1800, Mr. Morris suggested the practicability 
of enabling ships to sail from London into Lake Erie, and 
when, in 1803, he spoke of 'tapping Lake Erie,' he undoubt- 
edly contemplated a water communication directly from that 
lake to the Hudson." 

Mr. Colden probably received this information from some 
person interested; and the kindness of his heart prompting 
him to honor the memory of his departed friend, he affixed the 
above paragraph to a fly-leaf, apparently after a portion of the 
edition had been printed. He could not have derived the in- 
formation from Mr. Morris' writings, as we shall presently see. 

Dr. Hosack, who investigated this subject more thoroughly 
than any other writer, gives it as his opinion that it is "ques- 
tionable how far Mr. Morris (notwithstanding his conversation 
with Simeon DeWitt in 1803) had, prior to 1S10, when he was 
appointed one of the Canal Commissioners, seriously contem- 
plated any other communication between the Hudson and 
Lake Erie, than the route by Oswego and Lake Ontario." 

Dr. Hosack expresses some disappointment that the family 
of his old friend, Mr. Morris, did not furnish him, on his 
application, the "documents " to sustain the views that had 
been imputed to him. 

Mr. Morris was a man of rare qualities. He held several 
important and honorable public positions, and his liberal edu- 


cation derived improvement from his extensive travels. He is 
said to have been a "projector." He had the superintendence 
of a large tobacco business in Virginia, in connection with 
Robert Morris (who was not a family relative); and some deal- 
ings with French traders, which he had "projected," gave him 
occasion to go to France in December, 1788, to institute legal 
proceedings there to enforce payments. 

While in France, Mr. Morris projected a sale of twenty 
thousand barrels of flour to the French Government, which re- 
sulted in loss. He also projected, in connection with some 
capitalists in Holland, extensive speculations in the United 
States securities, which the French Minister of Finance was 
desirous to realize upon, as the troublesome times of the French 
Revolution began to be felt. A very important part of his bus- 
iness, also, was to find purchasers for some wild lands belong- 
ing to himself, Robert Morris and others, lying mostly in the 
State of New York, in the County of St. Lawrence. 

Mr. Morris and M. Leray de Chaumont having realized, by 
loans from M. Necker, thirty-eight thousand dollars on their 
bonds secured by lands in this country, which investment M. 
Necker seems to have made for the benefit of his daughter, 
Madame de Stael, she prevailed upon her father to appropriate 
twenty thousand dollars for the purchase of lands in America 
for herself direct; in pursuance of which, a purchase of twenty- 
three thousand acres was made in St. Lawrence County, New 
'York, under the direction of M. Necker, by M. Leray, with 
the advice of Mr. M6rris, who was consulted as being a friend 
to the parties, and, owning lands in the same vicinity, was well 
acquainted with their value. 

Mr. Morris returned from Europe in December, 1798. In 
the summer of 1800 he made the journey which he so glow- 
ingly described in his letter to John Parish, dated at the City 
of Washington, December 20, 1800, which has already been 
alluded to. In that letter he says: " In July last I left home 
to" visit some property of my own, and some which was con- 


fided to my care by others, in the northern part of the State of 
New York. I went by way of Albany and the lakes George 
and Champlain, to Montreal." From Montreal "we took boat 
and went up the St. Lawrence to Lake Ontario, and along the 
south side of that lake to Niagara; thence by land to Lake 
Erie, and so back again." After one day's repose at Niagara, 
we went to view the Falls; * * * from the Falls towards 
Lake Erie, along the bank of Niagara River, * * * we 
proceed to Fort Erie." "Here * * * I saw riding 
at anchor nine vessels, the least of them one hundred tons. 
* * * Does it not seem like magic? * * * Hundreds 
of large ships will in no distant period bound on the bil- 
lows of those inland seas. At this point commences a navi- 
gation of more than a thousand miles. Shall I lead your aston- 
ishment to the verge of incredulity? I will. Know, then, 
that one-tenth of the expense borne by Britain in the last 
campaign, would enable ships to sail from London, through 
Hudson's . River, into Lake Erie." Writing of taxes and 
finance, in the same letter, Mr. Morris says, "In 1760, there 
was not, perhaps, ten thousand dollars of specie in this coun- 
try. At present, the banks of Philadelphia alone have above 
ten millions to dispose of, beyond the demand." 

We will hope that those banks are relatively as rich in specie 
funds at the present time. 

The expressions here quoted, particularly that relating to 
ships sailing through Hudson River into Lake Erie, have been 
treated as the sure foundation of a claim to his being the pro- 
jector of the Erie Canal, although he was well aware of the 
existence and operations of the Western Inland Lock Naviga- 
tion Company, for improving the navigation between Schenec- 
tady and Oswego by the Mohawk River and Oneida Lake and 
River; and he was, of course, well advised of the legislative 
action two years previously, incorporating the " Niagara Com- 
pany," for the purpose of constructing a ship canal around 
Niagara Falls. 


The truth is, as we will soon see, that Mr. Morris could not 
have had in his mind, when writing those expressions, any 
other route to Lake Erie than the one by Lake Ontario and 
Niagara River; for his own subsequent writings on the sub- 
ject, which are clear and unambiguous, are the best explana- 
tions of any ambiguity in the expressions just quoted. 

But first let us look at one or two other incidents that are 
claimed as furnishing supporting evidence to the theory that 
Mr. Morris meant the Erie Canal. 

The first is of an earlier date, which is a letter written by 
Governor Morgan Lewis to Hermanus Bleecker, dated May 
26, 1828, written in reply to a letter from Mr. Bleecker asking 
him to write out his recollections of some remarks made by 
Mr. Morris, when at General Schuyler's headquarters at Fort 
Edward, in 1777. 

Governor Lewis writes, that Mr. Morris was sanguine of our 
success in the war, " and spoke in animated terms of the rapid 
march of the useful arts through our country, when once freed 
from a foreign yoke. One evening he announced in language 
highly poetic, that at no very distant day the waters of the 
great western inland seas would, by the aid of man, break 
through their barriers and mingle with those of the Hudson." 

Governor Lewis was seventy-four years old when he wrote 
that letter, giving his recollections of the language used by 
Mr. Morris fifty-one years previously; and when we call to 
mind the ardor of feelings that would naturally arise in the 
mind of a youthful officer in the army on receiving a visit 
from his friend and classmate — and that at the time of writing, 
the canal, unthought of in those earlier days, was in the full 
tide of success and popularity — and that Governor Lewis writes 
entirely from recollections, and does not pretend to quote a 
w r ord as being Mr. Morris' language — we will necessarily make 
some allowance for his interest in behalf of his early friend, 
and give such weight to the statements, as, in connection with 
other evidences, they shall seem entitled to. 


Another incident, stated from memory and second-handed, 
some thirty years after it is said to have occurred, has been re- 
lated to support the claim in behalf of Mr. Morris. It is said 
to have been communicated by S. DeWitt Bloodgood as ob- 
tained from Mr. K. K. Van Rensselaer. It is, that at a dinner 
party in Washington, soon after the date of Morris' letter to 
John Parish, the locality of the seat of government was dis- 
cussed, and Newburg, on the Hudson River, was suggested as 
a proper place. 

Mr. Morris said, "Yes, this would have been the place, and 
the members of Congress could have come from all parts by 
water." "Come by water!" exclaimed the company, "but 
how?" " By tapping Lake Erie and bringing its waters to the 
Hudson." "How could you bring them?" "By an inclined 
plane." "But that would be too expensive." " Well, then," 
said he, "there is a water-table which can be found." 

This story is probably from the lively imagination of some 
ardent friend of Mr. Morris, — and its invalidity, so far as fur- 
nishing evidence of Mr. Morris' being the projector of the Erie 
Canal, — and the invalidity of the views drawn from the letter 
of Morgan Lewis — as well as the great mistake made, and often 
repeated, in claiming that in his letter to John Parish, from 
which extracts have been made, Mr. Morris foretold the Erie 
Canal, — are all conclusively shown by Mr. Morris himself, in 
his letter to General Henry Lee, dated January 22, 1S01. 
General Lee had written to Mr. Morris, on the sixteenth of 
January, asking him to write out fully his views in regard to 
improvements of the country by additional water communica- 
tions; and Mr. Morris, after gracefully acknowledging the re- 
ceipt of the letter, says: " I will sketch out to you a general 
idea of what has occurred to my observation and reflection re- 
specting the commerce of our interior country, the political 
consequences which may result from it, and the means we pos- 
sess of rendering that commerce and those consequences fav- 
orable to our Government and propitious to our future pros- 


perity." And he proceeds to show the natural outlet to the 
ocean by the Mississippi and St. Lawrence rivers; the political 
and commercial importance to the country of improvements 
in the interior, and says: 

44 If we improve the means held out to us by the beneficent hand of Nature, 
we may obtain for ourselves all the advantages now enjoyed by foreign and 
rival powers. Nay, we may procure for our mercantile fellow-citizens much 
greater advantages. * * * The navigation between the Hud- 
son and Lake Ontario, by the Mohawk and Wood Creek, has been feebly 
and faintly attempted by a private company. * * * In my 
opinion, nothing short of the conveyance of a vessel of one hundred tons 

* * * is worthy of public attention. * * * 

But you will ask me if this be possible. I answer, that as far as I can 
judge from observation and information, it is not only practicable, but easy, 
though expensive To show this I need only say that Lake Ontario is con- 
siderably higher than the Hudson; that the shores of that lake, and the river 
flowing out of it, are not high; that it furnishes an immense but equable 
stream of water, and that no mountains intervene. An inclined plane may, 
I believe, be found from the Ontario to the Hudson, but to Lake Cham- 
plain it most certainly exists." 

This letter is unambiguous, and shows what were the views 
of the writer. It was written several weeks after the date of 
the letter to John Parish from which our previous quotations 
were made, and it is, in itself, evidence that the writer of it 
had no definite conception of the interior overland route to 
Lake Erie. 

Mr. Morris wielded the pen of a ready writer; his mind was 
clear and comprehensive, and he would never have written 
that letter and omitted saying in it any word about a direct 
canal through the interior to Lake Erie, if he had had any 
conception in his mind of the feasibility of such a project. 

Here, in all probability, is to be seen the reason why the 
family of Mr. Morris declined to give Dr. Hosack access to his 
writings, that the documents relating to a canal might all be 
published in his " Memoirs." 

Mr. Morris was desirous of having a water communication 
opened that would give access to the eastern markets, from his 


lands and those of his friend Madame de Stael, lying in St. 
Lawrence County, without encountering the tedious journey 
by land, through the new and unopened country that lay be- 
tween them and the tide-waters, as his letter to General Lee 
clearly shows; and his subsequent acts and writings in regard 
to improvements in the interior, are directed to this end. 

In September, 1803, he made a journey, by way of the Mohawk 
River, and Oneida and Ontario lakes, to St. Lawrence County, 
to see his lands there. Stopping over night in Schenectady, 
on his way up, he had an interview in his hotel, with Simeon 
DeWitt, who was Surveyor-General of the State; and, as Mr. 
Morris was interested in procuring some improvements that 
would be beneficial'to his lands, — and as the novel project of 
locking up and around the Falls of Niagara had recently been 
authorized by the Legislature, — and as neither the Western In- 
land Navigation Company, nor the Northern Inland Lock 
Navigation Company (the latter designed for opening com- 
munication between the northern section of Hudson River 
and Lake Champlain), were affording facilities for business 
to the extent that had been expected of them, — the con- 
versation of the two gentlemen naturally turned upon improv- 
ing the means of intercourse with the interior. No records are 
furnished us of what they said; and as the conversation was of 
that free and informal kind by which they pleasantly whiled 
away the evening, it is not probable that either of them made 
any notes of what was said, or expected ever to have occasion 
to refer to it again. 

In 1822, however, the Erie Canal had not only been projected, 
but after hard struggles, it was nearly completed, and was very 
popular throughout the State and elsewhere; and Mr. DeWitt, 
in a letter, dated February 25, 1822, to William Darby, who 
had requested materials to be introduced into the Encyclope- 
dia, writes as follows, among other things: 

" A considerable discussion * * * nas appeared in print about 
the origin of the Erie Canal, with the view of ascertaining who is most en- 


titled to the honor of it. * * * The merit of first starting the idea 
of a direct communication by water between Lake Erie and Hudson's River, 
unquestionably belongs to Mr. Gouverneur Morris. The first suggestion I 
had of it was from him. In 1803, I accidentally met with him at Schenec- 
tady. We put up for the night at the same inn, and passed the evening to- 
gether. Among the numerous topics of conversation to which his prolific 
mind and excursive imagination gave birth, was that of improving the means 
of intercourse with the interior of our State. He then mentioned the pro- 
ject of tapping Lake Erie, as he expressed himself, and leading its waters 
in an artificial river directly across the country to Hudson's River. * * * 
Considering this as a romantic thing and characteristic of the man, I related 
it on several occasions. Mr. Geddes now reminds me that I mentioned it to 
him in 1804, when he was here as a member of the Legislature; and adds, 
that afterwards, when in company with Jesse Hawley, it became a subject of 
conversation which probably led to inquiries that induced Mr. Hawley to 
write the essays which afterwards appeared in newspapers, on the subject of 
carrying the canal from Lake Erie to Albany, through the interior of the 
country, without going by the way of Lake Ontario." 

After relating the action of the Legislature on the motion of 
Judge Forman in 1808, directing surveys to be made, Mr. 
DeWitt continues, and says, he "commissioned James Geddes 
to make the surveys, and instructed him to survey two differ- 
ent routes for a canal from Oneida Lake to Lake Ontario; one 
by way of Oswego River, and one by Salmon River, which runs 
into Lake Ontario some distance east of Oswego (in the town 
of Mexico.)" Mr. Geddes was instructed next to level around 
the Niagara Falls, and ascertain the best line for a canal from 
above the Falls to Lewiston; and Mr. DeWitt says in the letter, 
"I had received such information from Mr. Joseph Ellicott 
* * * as satisfied me that a canal was practicable from the 
Niagara to the Genesee River;" hence, Mr. Geddes was in- 
structed that he need not make surveys in that section. 

This letter of Mr. DeWitt was written about nineteen years 
after that interview with Mr. Morris in Schenectady, entirely 
from memory; and it does not pretend to quote from Mr. Morris 
a single word, but it italicises the words tapping Lake Erie; 
and during the interval of time, very much had been said and 
written, by many persons, in regard to canals. 


That Mr. DeWitt labored under forgetfulness or misappre- 
hension, or else drew upon his imagination, when writing that 
letter and stating that Mr. Morris spoke of " tapping Lake Erie, 
and leading its waters directly across the country to the Hud- 
son; and that he is unquestionably entitled to the merit of first 
starting the idea of such a canal," will appear by our following 
Mr. Morris a little further on that journey. At Rome he had 
a conversation with Charles C. Broadhead, an engineer, on the 
subject of Canals; and, as Mr. Broadhead says, " Mr. Morris 
inquired very particularly as to the situation and soil of the 
land along the Oneida Lake and the banks of the Oneida and 
Oswego rivers, and the country lying between the Oneida and 
Ontario lakes;" and Mr. Broadhead continues, "if I mistake 
not, he spoke of the waters of the Salmon River and Bruce's 
Creek: the former empties into Lake Ontario, and the latter into 
Oneida Lake. * * * It is my impression that Lake Erie 
was not mentioned in this conversation. After answering Mr. 
Morris' inquiries as far as I was able, he declared he would 
give five hundred dollars to be a member of the Legislature 
that year, that he might get a law passed for a canal from the 
Hudson River, and I think I cannot be mistaken when I say, — 
to Lake Ontario." 

Mr. Morris here shows the same interest for improvements 
to communicate with his lands in St. Lawrence County, that 
was indicated in his letter to General Lee, two years previously; 
and in that interview with Mr. Broadhead is not manifested 
any conception of an idea of a canal through the interior to 
Lake Erie, as Mr. DeWitt, nineteen years afterward, imagined 
he had done at Schenectady. 

A little further on his journey, at Three-River Point, the 
same views are unmistakably indicated by Mr. Morris' writing 
in his diary, September 12, 1803 (for Mr. Morris kept a diary 
many years.) Of a canal he writes: "It should be taken from 
the head of Onondaga River and carried on the level as far 
east as it will go, and, if practicable, into the Mohawk River. 


* * * This canal, I think, should be five feet deep and 
forty-five feet wide. A branch might easily be carried to Lake 
Ontario." Not a word was written about Lake Erie, nor about 
a canal of any kind to any place west of Onondaga River; and 
it is not to be supposed that, considering the fluency with which 
Mr. Morris wrote, he would have omitted any allusion to an 
overland canal to Lake Erie, if he had had any conception of 
one in his mind. 

Thus we see that the ambiguity in Mr. Morris' letter to John 
Parish, and the vague and romantic recollections of Mr. DeWitt 
given in his letter to William Darby, cannot be reconciled with Mr. 
Morris' letters, his diary, and his actions, and with his conver- 
sation with Mr. Broadhead, except on the theory that he 
meant, as he wrote, a water communication from Lake Ontario 
to the Hudson River; and to this view all his writings and ac- 
tions point with entire harmony. If he used the expression, 
"tapping Lake Erie," in his conversation with Mr. DeWitt, he, of 
course, referred to the project for a canal around Niagara Falls. 

James Geddes, in a letter to William Darby, of February 22, 
1822, says: "In the winter of 1804, I learned, for the first time, 
from the Surveyor-General, that Gouverneur Morris, in a con- 
versation between them the preceding autumn, mentioned the 
scheme of a canal from Lake Erie across the country to the 
Hudson River;" and that it made a great "impression " on his 

This letter is written from memory, eighteen years after the 
incident is stated to have occurred; and the misapprehension 
under which it was written is seen in the fact, as herein shown, 
that Mr. Morris could not have mentioned the scheme of a canal 
from Lake Erie across the country; but that in 1803 he was devis- 
ing a plan for a canal from Onondaga River to the Mohawk, and 
also down to Lake Ontario: a scheme which, in the isolated con- 
dition of Onondaga County at that time, was well calculated to 
excite the attention of her people. 

Judge Geddes was, in 1804, a member of the Legislature; Mr. 


DeWitt was Surveyor-General of the State, and Mr. Morris had 
held several high official stations. All of them were public 
men, and public spirited men; and it is not probable that they 
all would have omitted or neglected the opportunity to bring 
the scheme before the public, if they had been " impressed " 
with the importance of such a work as a canal through the in- 
terior from Lake Erie, or had entertained any conception of 
the feasibility of such a project. 

Thus we see that the basis on which the claim is founded, 
that Mr. Morris was the projector of the Erie Canal, proves to 
be unsound; and, of course, the structure built upon it must fall. 
If Mr. Morris were now living, it is probable that his honorable 
impulses would constrain him to announce, as did Elkanah 
Watson, that he designed canaling between the Hudson River 
and Lake Ontario, and around Niagara Falls; and did not con- 
template a direct canal through the country to Lake Erie. 

Judge Geddes and Jesse Hawley, in their letters to Dr. Ho- 
sack, in 1828 (each one writing without the knowledge of the 
other), agree in regard to the time of their interview in Geneva, 
that it was "in the winter of 1806," "the winter before he 
wrote his essays;" and it is written, that the testimony of two 
men is true. But Judge Geddes claims to have "perfect recol- 
lection of informing Mr. Hawley of the project," and has "no 
doubt but that I informed him the idea came from Mr. Morris." 
And Mr. Hawley writes: "I do not recollect that any mention 
was made of the canal when we met in Geneva. If there was, 
I presume that I first spoke of it. * * * I afterwards saw 
Mr. Geddes at his house in Onondaga, in 181 1; when we con- 
versed on the subject, I believe, for the first time." And, in 
1835, Mr. Hawley writes: " With me, it was a native thought 
— without having been suggested or communicated to me by 
any person." When Judge Geddes wrote that letter to Dr. 
Hosack, he knew he was writing for history, and would be more 
likely to be correct in his dates than when writing a newspaper 
paragraph in 1S35, m which lie says his visit to Geneva was in 


1805, instead of 1806. But, as we have seen, his impression 
that he communicated the idea of the Erie Canal, must be con- 
founded with the interest which he and others naturally took 
in the project of a local canal, which Mr. Morris indicated in 
his diary. 

The paper read by George Geddes, Esq., maintains that 
Judge Geddes was so deeply impressed with the idea of a 
direct overland route for a canal — as coming from Mr. Morris 
— that he did not rest, but formed public opinion until 1807, 
when Judge Forman was elected to the Legislature as a " Ca- 
nal man," "on the question of a canal across the country, not 
by Lake Ontario;" and says Judge Forman was an eminent 
lawyer and an accomplished scholar, and his grace of person 
and manner gave him much influence with his associates. He 
was President of the Village of Syracuse, in 1825. 

This accomplished gentleman, on whom the argument of 
Mr. Geddes centers, wrote to Dr. Hosack on the subject of 
the Erie Canal, October 13, 1828; from which letter I quote as 

M On taking my seat as member of Assembly for the County of Onondaga, 
at the session of 1807-8, my bookseller handed me several copies of ' Rees' 
Cyclopedia,' to which I was a subscriber. I had early been acquainted with 
the projected works of the Inland Lock Navigation Company, from the 
Hudson River to Lake Ontario, and had seen in the Statute-book an Act to 
incorporate a Company to lock up the Niagara Falls from Lake Ontario to 
Lake Erie. In reading at my leisure in the article ' Canal,' an account of 
the numerous canals and improved river navigation in England, 1 soon dis- 
covered the relative importance of the former over the latter. Applying this 
to our interior, I perceived how much more the country would be benefitted 
by a canal than by the works contemplated, and * * * it oc- 
curred to me that if a canal was ever made to open a communication from 
the Hudson to the western lakes, it would be worth more than all the extra 
cost to go directly through the country to Lake Erie. * * * 
Sitting with Judge Wright and General MeNiel, my room-mates, I broached 
the subject to them. At first, Judge Wright objected that it would be folly 
to make a canal one hundred and fifty miles abreast of a good sloop naviga- 
tion in Lake Ontario. * * * The subject was freely discussed. 


Judge Wright gave in to the plan, and it was agreed by all that the project 
was of immense importance, and that measures ought to be taken to ascer- 
tain its practicability. I drew up the resolution, which Judge Wright 
agreed to second." 

From that resolution sprung the legislative action under 
which the first surveys were made, by Judge Geddes, in 1808. 

Judge Forman does not write as if he had been " elected to 
the Assembly as a canal man, on the question of a canal across 
the country, not by Lake Ontario;" but entirely inconsistently 
with such an idea. In his argument in support of the motion 
which he introduced, he pointed out nearly the same route for 
a canal as had been delineated in the first number of the 
"Hercules" papers by Mr. Hawley, published in Pittsburg; 
and in the second number, published in Canandaigua. Judge 
Forman continues: 

"I conversed frequently, during the season, with Judge Geddes, and ex- 
plained to him my views on the subject of the interior route. * * * * 
I should have been satisfied, so far as I am concerned, had not the Surveyor- 
General, in a letter to William Darby, given a new turn to the investigation, 
* * * giving an impression that my resolution had grown out of that sug- 
gestion of Gouverneur Morris. * * * Mr. Morris had traveled, and seen 
canals in other countries, and no doubt had bright visions of the future im- 
provements of this country, * * * but it was nowise probable that he 
viewed them as works to be accomplished in his day, or, as a patriot, he 
would have proposed the subject to the Legislature. * * * His sugges- 
tions * * * had no more effect in producing the canal, than the ancient 
poet's song of the 'Fortunate Islands beyond the Atlantic Ocean' had 
in producing the discover)- of America." 

The resolution introduced into the Assembly by Judge For- 
man, in 1808, resulted in directing the Surveyor-General to 
cause a "survey to be made of the rivers, streams and waters 
in the usual route of communication between the Hudson River 
and Lake Erie, and such other contemplated route as he may 
deem proper;" thus leaving the whole matter very much in his 
discretion: and that Mr. DeWitt was not, at this time, very 
much impressed with such views as he writes, in 1S22, had 
been communicated to him by Mr. Morris in 1S03, is seen by 

3 2*6 THE ERIE CA NA L. 

his instructions in regard to making that survey, given to James 
Geddes, under date of June n, 1808, already stated; which 
read as if he exercised the discretion given him to promote the 
object which Mr. Morris had in view in his journey by way of 
Oswego, in 1803, to his lands in St. Lawrence County; for the 
first thing he instructed Mr. Geddes to do was, to look for the 
best place for a canal from Oneida Lake to Lake Ontario, in 
the town of Mexico. And Judge Geddes is not so much im- 
pressed in behalf of an interior route to Lake Erie, as to offer 
any remonstrance against expending the time and the money 
appropriated for those surveys, almost exclusively upon the 
Ontario route. 

And that Mr. DeVVitt labored under some forgetfulness or 
misapprehension in regard to this matter, is conclusively shown 
by an incongruity he perpetrates in his instructions to Judge 
Geddes, in 1808, and in his letter to Mr. Darby, in 1822; stating 
in the first, that, k ' As Joseph Ellicott has given me a description 
of the country from Tonnewanta Creek to the Genesee River, 
* * * it is important to have exploration continued to Sen- 
eca River. No leveling or survey of it will be necessary for 
the present; * * * a view of the ground only, with such 
information as may be obtained from others, is all that can now 
be required of you." And in the letter to Mr. Darby he says, 
"I had received such information from Joseph Ellicott, etc." 

That information and description of the country was sent to 
Mr. DeWitt several weeks after his instructions were issued to 
Mr. Geddes, which was the eleventh day of June, 1S0S; and 
Mr. Ellicott's communication of that valuable information is 
dated Batavia, July 30, 1808, and begins by acknowledging 
the receipt of Mr. De Witt's letter of June 13, 1S08, in which 
Mr. DeWitt asks for the information, which Mr. Ellicott then 
proceeds to give. 

The Legislature of 1810 appointed Gouverneur Morris, De- 
Witt Clinton, and five others, a Board of Commissioners "for 
exploring the whole route for inland navigation from Hudson's 


River to Lake Ontario and Lake Erie." That Board of Com- 
missioners entered upon their duties on the first day of July 
following, having with them the writings of Jesse Hawley on 
the subject of a canal, and other valuable documents, as we 
have seen; and Mr. Morris, while on that tour of exploration, 
on the twelfth of July, 1810, put himself on record, for the first 
time, in favor of a direct overland canal to Lake Erie. 

What followed, in the complex and protracted preliminaries, in 
the beginning, the progress and completion of that gigantic work, 
has been delineated before this Society on previous occasions. 

We have seen that the canal was "projected;" and while we 
cannot claim for any person that he was the first or only one 
who "conceived " the idea, yet, that the views promulgated in 
the " Hercules " papers by Jesse Hawley, in 1807, were original, 
native thoughts with him, and the first publication of such a 
project, is too well established to need further elucidation. 

After many delays and much anxiety in behalf of the canal, 
the State finally entered upon the work of its construction on 
the fourth of July, 1817; and its completion on the twenty- 
sixth of October, 1825, was announced by such a. feu de joie as 
had not been previously known in any age; and we are wit- 
nesses to-day, that the predictions of its effects upon our coun- 
try and people, made by its earliest advocates, have been more 
than realized. 

To recount its influence in attracting the husbandman from 
all parts of the world, to cultivate the rich, unbroken soil of 
the vast country west of us, — in inviting the mechanic and en- 
terprizing trader, the men of science and the political econo- 
mists, to occupy that broad domain, and organize States, build 
up towns and cities, and extend the blessings of civilization, — 
would be only repeating what has many times been said. 

To narrate the growth and extent of the material and social 
prosperity that is traceable directly to the Erie Canal, would 
tax the capacity of man to appreciate them. Not a State in 
what we call the West, nor one of the many opulent cities in 


that region, but owes its organic existence or its prosperity to 
the influence of that great work. 

In 1825, the cities of St. Louis and Cincinnati would have 
smiled derisively upon any proposition that within the ensuing 
generation they would be eclipsed by a city on the southwestern 
shore of Lake Michigan, which then had no existence. The 
cities of Chicago, Milwaukee, Toledo and others, may be said 
to have been born of the canal. 

Our own city, with its broad and extensive avenues, its 
humane and benevolent institutions, its gorgeous buildings, its 
wealth and population, and, above all, its magnificent ships and 
extensive commerce, is a proud witness of the propriety of the 
undertaking, and of the success which has followed it. The 
first wheat brought to this port — two thousand five hundred 
bushels, in 1828 — found no market here; the trade which the 
canal inspired had not then been put into action. The arrivals 
of grain and flour in a single year, recently, have been equal to 
nearly seventy-three million bushels. 

The tolls paid to the State on property shipped on the canal 
from this port in any one year as late as 1840, scarcely exceeded 
three hundred thousand dollars. They have since exceeded 
three million dollars in a single year. 

The benefits resulting from the canal have been felt and 
enjoyed in every county and town throughout the State; the 
increase in the value of all real property being in the aggregate 
many times greater than the cost of its construction. 

The City of New York, in whose growth and prosperity we 
take a just pride, has derived from this canal greater benefits, 
perhaps, than any other city. Her population, in 1820, being 
about one hundred and twenty thousand, and at the present 
time over one million, — the value of her real and personal pro- 
perty, as recently as 1S45, reported at about two hundred and 
forty million dollars, and at the present time over one billion 
dollars — -the magnitude of her trade and commerce, her imports 
and exports in the year 1S67, aggregating over five hundred and 


sixteen million dollars, — her supremacy over every other sea- 
board city — all attest that to her the canal has been, and now 
is, "a river of gold flowing into her lap." 

It is not the locality, merely, of the City of New York, that has 
secured to her such prosperity and enabled her to absorb the 
growing business of other cities, and make them pay tribute to 
her. Other seaboard cities north and south of her, have spa- 
cious harbors, and are as accessible to all the interior country 
by railroads as New York; but they have no Erie Canal tribu- 
tary to them. As the canal has been the source of her pros- 
perity in years past, so it is the main reliance for her continued 
enjoyment of this high position in the years to come. 

No city can long maintain the controlling position she occu- 
pies in regard to the foreign commerce of the country, without 
the supplies steadily and certainly furnished by this i?iterior 
and never-failing source. 

The financial success of the canal is without a parallel in the 
history of similar enterprises. Besides the great increase of ma- 
terial wealth it has brought to all parts of the State, its own ac- 
count of receipts and expenditures, including its construction, 
repairs, enlargement and improvements, with interest to Sep- 
tember 30, 1866, as reported by the Auditor of the Canal De- 
partment, shows a cash balance to its credit, of about forty-one 
and one-half millions of dollars. 

The State canal debt, which has sometimes been urged as a 
formidable objection to any further outlay upon canals, is the 
offspring of a laudable desire to promote the local as well as 
the general interests of the State, that has prevailed in the ad- 
ministration of State affairs; and which led to the construction 
of various local canals, none of which have been financially 
successful, though of great and lasting benefit to the people 
of their immediate locality; and the canal debt now resting 
upon the State is the result of the construction of those canals, 
the benefits of which pertain to the particular localities; and 
those localities might reasonably be expected to be foremost in 


a movement to pay off that debt by a general and equal tax 
upon all the property of the State, rather than to allow the debt 
to be an impediment in the way of further improving and per- 
fecting the capacity of the Erie Canal, to the extent of enabling 
it to do all the business that may be offered to it, and at such 
moderate charges that no other route shall be able to com- 
pete with it. 

Since the original construction of the canal, its prism has 
been enlarged and its capacity greatly improved. The tonnage 
of boats navigating it was originally from thirty-five to forty- 
tons; now, boats of two hundred and fifty tons make their voy- 
age through its waters; but yet, its size is not that of one hun- 
dred feet wide and ten feet deep, as was recommended in the 
essays of " Hercules." Such a canal, with locks of correspond- 
ing dimensions, if constructed without delay, would put to rest 
all questions of its utility or supremacy. 

The great and rapid increase of the business of the country, 
springing directly from the construction of the canal, brought 
into existence numerous railroad enterprises; and there are now 
as many as five or six through lines of railroads engaged to the 
extent of their capacity in this inland commerce; and yet, so 
great has been the increase in the productions of the country, 
that, with all the increase of facilities for transportation, they 
are not sufficient to meet the demand upon them; and in the 
clamor for additional facilities and greater speed, we occasion- 
ally hear of more railroads being projected, and see the canal 
partially overlooked or entirely ignored. 

As a people, we are "faster" than were those of fifty years 
ago. We think and move faster than they; we transact more 
business, and amass greater wealth, and are impatient of re- 
straint or delays; but let us not overlook the fact that it would 
be physically impossible to transact the business of this vast in- 
terior commerce by railroads. The electric telegraph will flash 
our commercial messages instantaneously from San Francisco 
to New York, but it cannot transnort one bushel of wheat. 


The fleetest horses of Arabia could not be made the beasts of 
burden to perform a heavy carrying trade. Neither can the 
railroads, though adapted to the speedy transportation of per- 
sons and much of the merchandise and products of the coun- 
try, perform the heavy freighting business between the West 
and the East. The main reliance is upon our canal; and we 
read with some surprise an editorial in so well-informed a news- 
paper as the New York Times, in July last, opposing further 
appropriations to the canals, and saying: "Water transporta- 
tion of every kind is rapidly losing its influence in our trade 
with the interior. * * * The day of the canals 
has gone by — they have accomplished their work, and can now 
be relieved by the superior system of transportation," — the rail- 

We might suppose the editor had been romancing, and ex- 
pect he would next write (after a pleasant moonlight drive 
through Central Park), that the sun is an old played-out in- 
stitution; that its heats have become too oppressive, and we can 
well dispense with it. The moon is more pleasant, and the 
comforts it supplies are an improvement upon the old system. 

The sun is scarcely more necessary to supply those essential 
elements of our existence and welfare, reflected by the moon, 
than is the canal to sustain the commercial supremacy of New 
York, as well as the prosperity of the railroads engaged with 
it in carrying on this commerce. 

If it were possible for the City of Boston to become the out- 
let of this canal, and secure the constant flow of its stream of 
supplies into her own lap, instead of enriching New York, she 
would soon reinstate the Cunard steamships at her wharves, 
and would not feel a necessity for inviting her neighboring 
merchants to meet her in convention, and devise the ways and 
means for checking the decline of her commercial influence and 
relative position. 

This interior commerce, which enriches all who manage it, 
is too great a prize to escape the efforts of opposing and com- 


peting interests to draw it to other channels; and we see capi- 
tal and enterprise employed, with such well-directed energy as 
merits success, to divide this traffic with New York, and ap- 
propriate a part of the golden stream to other and foreign 
cities. The projected improvements for business on the Mis- 
sissippi River, by means of barges and of elevators at New Or- 
leans, it is claimed, will draw to that channel a large volume 
of the property that has heretofore sought an eastern market 
by way of this canal, and thus enrich the shipping interests on 
that river and the City of New Orleans, at our expense. 

Our neighbors of the Dominion of Ontario were early alive 
to the importance of securing a portion of this growing com- 
merce; and they constructed the Welland Canal, which has for 
many years diverted ho inconsiderable share of this flowing 
wealth to a foreign channel, and their efforts to this end have 
not abated. They have constructed extensive lines of railroads, 
improved the navigation of their rivers, and projected other 
works of yet greater importance, as connected with this com- 
merce. If they shall construct the Georgian Bay and Toronto 
Canal, and make the Ottowa River Improvement to Montreal 
(especially the latter), before our canal is perfected by enlarg- 
ing its locks and securing a greater depth of water, they will 
succeed in diverting a larger amount of our legitimate traffic 
than we can afford to lose. A small portion, only, of shipments 
on Lake Ontario, find their way to New York; and shipments 
by the Ottawa River route must, of necessity, pay their tribute 
to the cities of Montreal and Quebec. 

One of the leading objects in view, with all those men who 
early advocated the improvement of water communication be- 
tween the interior and tide-water, was to secure this commerce 
to our own people, and build up our own cities with the pro- 
ducts of our enterprise and capital, rather than allow it to be 
appropriated by our foreign neighbors. These views were 
deeply impressed upon the mind of that good and loyal Briton, 
Cadwallader Colden, as early as the year 1724, and they were 


repeated by Sir Henry Moore, General Washington, George 
Clinton, and every other writer in favor of internal improve- 
ments, down to the time of our canal. 

We are now in the enjoyment of the high position which the 
construction of the canal was expected to confer upon us; and 
the benefits it bestows on other States, and upon the nation at 
large, justly entitle^ New York to the appellation of the " Em- 
pire State." It has been said, by good authority, that the 
struggle we recently encountered with armed rebellion could 
not have been successfully carried on but for the sinews of 
war, — the wealth derived from the productions of the country, 
through the facilities which this canal afforded. 

If we have not secured, to the full extent, the advantages 
which the canal might yield to us, it behooves us to look for 
the cause, and apply the remedy. If any portion of this inher- 
itance is in danger of being wrested from our hands by com- 
peting interests, we, as wise men possessed of the ability to pre- 
serve it, will not fail to counteract such efforts, by the legit- 
imate means at our command. Such danger is not to be en- 
countered by the competition of the railroads. The interests 
of these roads and of the canal are reciprocal. The roads 
would not have come into existence but for the stimulus given 
by the canal; and now, both of the systems are to a large ex- 
tent dependent upon each other. It is the competition which 
may arise from other water routes of transit, that may prejudice 
or put in jeopardy the interests centered in our canal; and to- 
wards this should our counteracting efforts be directed. 

Such improvements of the canal as will secure to it a steady 
supply of water to the greatest depth admissible, an enlarge- 
ment of its locks to a corresponding extent, with a schedule 
of tolls as low as would suffice to pay the interest on the 
cost of the improvements, and an economical administration of 
its affairs, would enable the canal to neutralize all competition, 
and secure its supremacy over the commerce of the northern 
States. • Whatever be the necessary expense, the importance 


of such improvement demands immediate attention. A large 
debt resting upon the State, incurred in the progress of its in- 
ternal improvement policy, is put forth as a reason for with- 
holding further appropriations for canals. But that argument 
cannot apply to this canal, which, as we have seen, is rich in 
funds, to the extent of many millions of dollars. 

It has also been gravely urged in the Constitutional Conven- 
tion, by a member from the City of New York, that the State 
should sell the canal! Not because it has not accomplished all 
that was predicted for it, — not for any financial delinquency, — 
but because, as stated, it is impossible to secure an honest admin- 
istration of its affairs! The philosopher who urged this proposi- 
tion, doubtless predicated his argument on the doctrine of total 
depravity; and he should have followed his logic to its legiti- 
mate conclusion, and proposed that the Convention be dis- 
solved, — because constitutions and laws are worthless, it being 
impossible to secure an honest administration of them! 

We cannot afford to allow the supremacy of the canal to be 
put in jeopardy. A due regard to the future welfare of our 
own city will not permit it, — the agricultural interests of our 
State, to its remotest corners, cannot afford the risk, — the City 
of New York, least of all, can afford thus to jeopardize its com- 
manding position. Our railroads themselves cannot afford to 
lose the impetus they receive from this controlling source. 
Better that the present debt and the expense of further improve- 
ments be paid by a tax on all the property of the State, and the 
tolls placed at the lowe'st rate consistent with the necessary cur- 
rent expenditures, than suffer a diminution of the golden stream. 

We are not such degenerate sons of our fathers that we are 
unable to appreciate and preserve this rich heritage, — the re- 
sult of their wisdom and enterprise, — and we must carry out 
to perfection that which they so auspiciously began, and in 
which they achieved such signal success; and thus secure to 
our successors the benefits that will follow, and to our State 
the high distinction she has earned, through all coining time. 





The general subject of the Origin of the Erie Canal, and 
especially the question, "Who was the first projector? Who 
first promulgated the project for such a canal, and called public 
attention to its feasibility and utility?" has been amply discussed 
before this Society, and settled in favor of the author of that 
series of communications signed "Hercules," which appeared 
in the newspaper called the Genesee Messenger, printed in Can- 
andaigua, N. Y., beginning October 27, 1807; and public inter- 
est in this branch of the subject is perhaps surfeited, if not quite 

The absorbing interest in regard to this canal at the present 
time, relates to the best method of making it adequate to the 
wants of the great and increasing traffic between the East and 
West, and effectual to retain and promote the commercial pros- 
perity of our State, by maintaining its supremacy in the domes- 
tic commerce of our common country; and, in this connection, 
the value of one of the propositions of "Hercules" is being 
more fully appreciated; viz., that the canal be made one hun- 
dred feet wide and ten feet deep. 


The importance to our State and people of putting this canal 
in a condition to accommodate all the traffic that may be 
offered to it, at very low or nominal rates of toll, which is now 
being so generally recognized, was briefly but distinctly set 
forth in a paper read by me before the Club of this Society on 
the third of February, 1868; which paper also, in connection 
with the paper read by me, February 21, 1866, shows the 
history of the origin of this canal from known and recorded 
facts and circumstances, by which our conclusions in the mat- 
ter have been reached. 

But that we may duly regard the truth of this history, and 
readily perceive some of the fallacies that have been employed 
in discussing the subject, by persons occupying an erroneous 
standpoint, and brush away some of the mists with which 
lensrth of time surrounds human memories, and so correct 
some errors to which official names have given the semblance 
of truth, it becomes proper to analyze and develop the facts 
and the circumstance of this history, from the standpoint of 
the records, a little further. 

In regard to the question of the "first projector" of this 
canal, the paper read on the third of February, 1868, already 
referred to, notices and refutes the claim in behalf of Gou- 
verneur Morris, which was advocated by George Geddes, Esq., 
on the fourth of February, 1867, — and which is based upon the 
recollections of sundry persons, as stated by themselves some 
twenty and fifty years after the occurrences which they relate as 
having transpired, — and upon an erroneous construction of the 
letter written by Mr. Morris to John Parish, dated December 
20, 1800; disregarding all the other writings of Mr. Morris, and 
other important conversations on the subject of improvements. 

The claim in behalf of the " Hercules " essays is based on 
the facts that they were the first publication of the project for an 
overland canal to Lake Erie, and were published to the world 
at the time they were written; and on the assurance of their 
author that the views they promulgate were original with him, 


without having been communicated by any person; with the 
conviction that the impartial reader of those essays at the pres- 
ent day, will not fail to discover in them internal evidence of; 
their originality with the author. And it is a recorded fact 
that Elkanah Watson, DeWitt Clinton and others, ascribe to 
those essays the first intimation of the project which they had 
been able to find. The research and personal knowledge of 
Elkanah Watson in regard to the origin and progress of internal 
improvements, and of the persons indentified with them, were 
greater than those of any of his contemporaries who wrote on • 
these subjects: and that DeWitt Clinton was well and correctly 
informed on the same subjects need not be proven here. 

It was claimed by me, and the gentlemen of the Club ap- 
proved the proposition, that a question of this kind should be 
determined by the actions or the unambiguous writings or state- 
ments of the persons, recorded or known at the time of their 
occurrence; instead of relying upon the memory of other per- 
sons through a long course of years, or on a forced or errone- 
ous construction of one letter, rendered ambiguous, perhaps, 
by events subsequent to its date, when other writings of the 
same person give abundant evidence of his meaning. 

This latter method was the only one available to Mr. Geddes, 
by which to advocate his claim in behalf of Mr. Morris as the- 
" first projector," and also the claim that James Geddes was 
entitled to precedence over Jesse Hawley in connection with 
the project; arguing that James Geddes had " received the 
idea" second-handed from Mr. Morris, and had communicated 
it to Mr. Hawley. 

I have no desire to open this question; but reasons already 
indicated seem to require a further exposition of some of the 
facts and their attendant circumstances as they appear on the 
pages of history: and while doing this, I feel justified in adopt- 
ing, to a small extent, the same basis of reasoning used by 
George Geddes, for the purpose of showing in what manner 
James Geddes and his friend Joshua Form an received their 


first intimation of the project for an overland canal from Lake 
Erie to tide-water. 

In the paper read by me on the third of February, 1868, pre- 
viously referred to, it is shown that it is impossible to reconcile 
the letter of Mr. Morris to John Parish, dated December 20, 
1800, with the proposition, that Morris had in his mind, when 
writing that letter, any idea of a communication by water with 
Lake Erie by the overland route, or by any route except by the 
Avay of Lake Ontario, around Niagara Falls by the contemplated 
ship canal; for the construction of which, a Company had been 
incorporated in 1798. 

Mr. Morris was possessed of a vigorous mind and of clear 
ideas, and he had a rare facility of expressing himself on paper. 
He did not write ambiguous letters, although sometimes ro- 
mantic. When writing his beautiful letters to Mr. Parish in 
December, 1800, he writes from the standpoint of his recently 
traveled route to Fort Erie and "so back again," and of his 
"knowledge of the business route of the Western Inland Lock 
Navigation Company, and of the projected Niagara Ship Canal; 
and that letter has been made to appear ambiguous perhaps by 
the projection and successful completion of the overland canal 
since its date, or at least its meaning has been perverted by 
claimants for fame in connection with this canal since the de- 
cease of Mr. Morris, and after the success and popularity of 
this work had become well assured; although the letter of Mr. 
Morris to General Henry Lee, written about thirty days after 
the date of that letter to John Parish, shows to a certainty 
that his meaning was " to sail * * * into Lake 

Erie" by the Ontario route. 

It is also-shown in the paper read on the third of February, 
1868, that it is impossible to reconcile the statements of Mr. 
DeWitt in his letter to William Darby, in 1S22, about his inter- 
view with Mr. Morris at Schenectady, in 1803, — with other con- 
versations and writings on the same subject, by Mr. Morris, 
•while pursuing his way on that journey. 


I am not questioning the integrity of purpose in Mr. DeWitt, 
for writing as he did in the letter above mentioned. That let- 
ter purports to give from memory the substance of an informal 
conversation between Mr. Morris and himself nineteen years 
previously, — about the first of September, 1803; — while the 
conversation and writing of Mr. Morris a few days afterward, 
show, that he had then no project nor any conception of one, 
for a water communication with Lake Erie except by a canal 
"from the head of Onondaga River as far east as it will go on 
that level; if practicable, into the Mohawk River," — and that 
"a branch might easily be carried to Lake Ontario * * * at 
Oswego;" thence to Lake Erie by the contemplated ship canal. 

The public mind in those localities was strongly exercised 
at that time in regard to improved means of communication, 
long expected, but only partially realized, by the Western In- 
land Lock Navigation Company, and Mr. Morris was contriv- 
ing methods Of communication between tide-water and his 
large estates in St. Lawrence County; and while Mr. DeWitt's 
position would naturally interest him in projects for public im- 
provements, the isolated condition of Onondaga County would 
incline her people to regard with intense favor any measure 
that gave promise of an easy access to eastern markets: and it 
is not surprising that some of those people should erroneously 
connect in their imagination those early efforts in behalf of 
local improvements with the first movements in favor of this 
greater and more extensive enterprise. 

Between the years 1803 and 1822, very much had been said, 
written and accomplished in regard to the Erie Canal, — at 
the latter date it was far progressed toward completion; — 
many persons had acquired well-merited fame in connection 
with its commencement and progress; and some persons were 
discussing the question of who was entitled to the honors due 
to its first projector, — in which discussions the innate modesty 
of the author of the " Hercules " essays forbade him to take 
any part. 


Mr. DeWitt's official position made him an observer of all 
this; very many matters, official an unofficial, communicated 
verbally, must have had his attention and then passed from his 
memory; and it would be strange indeed if his recollections 
had not become confused in regard to many things he had 
heard about canals. He would remember, with pleasure, his in- 
terview with Mr. Morris in 1803, at Schenectady, and recollect, 
also, that a prominent topic of conversation was the improve- 
ment of facilities for transportation; and as, in 1822, the Erie 
Canal was so far advanced in its progress of construction as to 
have become an u artificial river " almost across the State, it 
was very easy for him (and it is not surprising that he did so) 
to connect in his imagination the conversation of Mr. Morris 
nineteen years previously, with this gigantic work which for 
several years had absorbed public attention; and so be led to 
write as he did to Mr. Darby, that the remarks of Mr. Morris 
in reference to such local improvements as were engaging his 
attention and efforts in 1803, were made in reference to an over- 
land canal. 

Mr. DeWitt wrote from the standpoint of a successful and 
popular enterprise, then nearly completed and extending through 
the State; while the remarks of Mr. Morris were from the stand- 
point of several local improvements, having the Onondaga River 
and Lake Ontario as their termination, with a ship canal around 
Niagara Falls, and did not refer to a direct overland canal to 
Lake Erie; as is fully shown by his conversation with Mr. 
Broadhead at Rome, as he continued on that journey, and by 
the memorandum he made in his diary at Three- River Point, 
on September 12, 1803, while further prosecuting that journey: 
and well substantiated by the fact that, although Mr. DeWitt 
and Mr. Morris were on terms of personal intimacy for many 
years, both being members of the first Board of Commissioners 
for Exploration in 1S10, no record is found in existence to 
show that Mr. Morris entertained any idea of an overland canal 
to Lake Erie, until July 12, 1810. 


The resolution passed by the Legislature of 1808, on the 
motion of Judge Forman, directed the Surveyor-General to 
cause a survey to be made "of the rivers, streams and waters 
in the usual route of communication between Hudson River and 
Lake Erie, and such other contemplated route as he may think 
proper;' and Surveyor-General DeWitt appointed James Ged- 
des to perform that public service. From Mr. DeWitt's letter of 
instructions to Mr. Geddes, I quote as follows: "You will, in 
the first place, examine what may appear to be the best place 
for a canal from Oneida Lake to Lake Ontario in the town of 
Mexico, and take a survey and level of it; also whether a canal 
cannot be made between Oneida Lake and Oswego, by a route 
in part to the west of Oswego River. The next object will be 
the ground between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, which must 
be examined with a view to determine what will be the most 
eligible track for a canal from below Niagara Falls to Lake 
Erie. * * As Mr. Joseph Ellicott has given me a descrip- 
tion of the country from Tonawanda Creek to the Genesee 
River, and pointed out a route for a canal through that tract, 
it is important to have a continuation of it explored to the Sen- 
eca River. No leveling or survey of it will be necessary for the 
present. * * A view of the ground only, with such informa- 
tion as may be obtained from others, is all that can now be re- 
quired of you." 

The " usual route " mentioned in the legislative resolution, 
was none other than the "Ontario route," a Portage Company 
being employed around Niagara Falls; and it was wholly in the 
discretion of Mr. DeWitt whether any other route should be 
explored, and to what extent another route should participate 
in this development of its advantages. If he had heard an 
overland route portrayed so vividly in 1S03, — as he states nine- 
teen years afterwards, — his memory would have been quick- 
ened upon it in 180S by Mr. Forman's proposition and speech 
in the Legislature; and his patriotism would have influenced 
his discretion to direct that a large portion of the surveyor's 


time and expense should be devoted to explorations for that 
overland route. Instead of doing so, he directed that the first 
efforts, the second efforts, and almost the whole time and efforts 
of that surveyor should be devoted to the advancement of that 
route for " sailing into Lake Erie " — which Mr. Morris con- 
templated in 1800, when writing to John Parish; and to which 
he referred in 1803, when conversing with Mr. DeWitt at 
Schenectady; — viz., the "Ontario route." 

In Mr. DeWitt's letter of instructions to James Geddes, which 
is dated June n, 1808, he says: "As Mr. Joseph Ellicott has 
given me a description of the country from Tonawanda Creek 
to Genesee River," &c. Mr. DeWitt intended, doubtless, to 
write to Mr. Ellicott for that information, as he afterwards did; 
and he felt assured he would get it, as Mr. Ellicott was com- 
petent to give it, and too patriotic to withhold it when applied 
to. But Mr. DeWitt had not received that information from 
Mr. Ellicott at the date of his instructions to James Geddes, as 
Mr. DeWitt's letter to Mr. Ellicott asking for this information 
is dated June 13, 1808, and Mr. Ellicott's reply is dated July 
30, 1808. 

Among other instances that might be shown of Mr. DeWitt's 
forgetfulness or confusion of facts, I will cite only one more, 
viz., the question of veracity and of fact growing out of state- 
ments in Mr. DeWitt's letter to William Darby, and resented 
by Mr. Forman, in his letter to Doctor Hosack. 

It is thus seen that Mr. DeWitt must have " misapprehended " 
and misapplied the remarks of Mr. Morris in 1803, when the 
former wrote the letter to William Darby in 1S22; as it is shown 
that Mr. Morris could not have had in mind any project for an 
overland canal to Lake Erie, and therefore he could not, and 
did not, communicate such a project to Mr. DeWitt; and it 
follows that Mr. DeWitt did not communicate the idea of such 
a project to James Geddes in the winter of 1S04; and that 
James Geddes did not communicate it to Jesse Hawleyat their 
interview in Geneva., " in the winter of 1S06," — " the winter be- 


fore he wrote his essays." And it also follows that the efforts 
of James Geddes to form public opinion in favor of a canal, un- 
til 1807, when, as a result of those efforts, Joshua Forman was 
elected to the Legislature as a "canal man," were w/ directed 
by considerations of a canal "across the country, and not by 
Lake Ontario;" but those efforts were directed to questions re- 
specting such local canals as Mr. Morris had indicated in his 
diary, and to which he had reference in his conversation with 
Mr. DeWitt at Schenectady in 1803, which was communi- 
cated to James Geddes at the legislative session of 1804; and 
the proposition for such improvements at that' time was well 
adapted to arouse the enthusiasm of the people of Onondaga, 
and lead them to elect to the Legislature a canal man of suffi- 
cient influence to procure an appropriation for surveying the 
ground for any proposed improvements that would give them 
better facilities for reaching the seaboard markets; and with 
this view they elected to the Assembly, in April, 1807, the 
" Union Ticket " of John McWhorter, a Democrat, and Joshua 
Forman, a Federal, under the caption of "Canal Ticket:" and 
Clark's History of Onondaga says: " Mr. Forman was elected 
upon the express understanding that he would try to procure the 
appropriation of money to make examinations of the country." 
In reference to the interview between James Geddes and 
Jesse Hawley at Geneva, "in the winter of 1806," Mr. Haw- 
ley, in his letter to Dr. Hosack, in 1828, written in response to 
a call for information on the subject of the canal, — this being 
the first time he was known to take up his pen to assert or 
vindicate his claim to priority in this matter, — writes as fol- 
lows: "I saw Judge Geddes at Utica, in April, 1S04, for the 
first time; he was returning from the Legislature; I saw him 
again at Geneva in the winter of 1806, — this was about ten 
months after I had suggested [to Col. Mynderse] the idea of 
an overland canal: again I saw him at his house in Onondaga, 
in September, 181 1; he had then surveyed a part of the route 
under the direction of the first Board of Commissioners, when 


we conversed on the subject, I believe for the first time; I do 
not recollect that any mention was made of it when we met at 
Geneva; if there was, I presume that I first spoke of it." 

If Judge Geddes had " received the idea of passing a canal 
over the country to Lake Erie, from the Surveyor-General, in 
the winter of 1804," — and if the idea had made such a "vivid 
impression on his mind," as he states twenty-five years after- 
wards that it did, he would have given some expression to it 
when, on his way home in April following, he had an interview 
at Utica with Mr. Hawley, who was then a merchant at Geneva, 
and was much interested in any project for public improve- 
ments. But no such communication was made. If he had 
''received an idea" which he regarded as so momentous, in 
1804, and was unable to bring the subject before that Legisla- 
ture, of which he was a member, he would, of course, propose 
to one of his representatives the next winter, that legislative 
attention should be called to the subject; or, neglecting that, 
he would surely have solicited his neighbor, Jasper Hopper, 
who was one of the members from Onondaga in 1806, to press 
upon the authorities at Albany an idea of so much importance; 
and yet there is no record nor any pretence that any such ac- 
tion was taken or contemplated, until the election of Mr. For- 
man to the Legislature of 1808; — and yet Mr. Forman himself 
gives a full contradiction to the "idea" which it is pretended 
has been handed down from Mr. Morris, and to the statement 
that he was elected on the theory of an overland canal. And 
if Judge Geddes had been so much impressed with the para- 
mount importance of an overland route, as has been claimed, 
he could not have consented as he did, without some strong 
remonstrance, to carry out the instructions of the Surveyor- 
General, and spend the whole sum appropriated for his ex- 
penses, and the entire summer and autumn, in exploring the 
Ontario route, including the Niagara Ship Canal project; 
which service Judge Geddes says he " entered upon with en- 
thusiasm:" and yet, from the information derived from the 


" Hercules " essays, or upon the suggestion contained in the 
closing paragraph of his instructions, he was induced to make 
a cursory winter examination between the Seneca and Genesee 
rivers; and he left his home in the month of December, and 
devoted some days amidst the snows, for that purpose. 

Valuable as that winter examination may be called, as one of 
the preliminaries to the great enterprise which was commenced 
a few years .afterwards, the labors and explorations of that 
whole season, together with Judge Gecfdes' report and other 
written statements, are so inconsistent with the pretence that it 
"was not an agreeable work for him to survey the Ontario 
route," and that " his views were all directed to finding a prac- 
tical route overland," that they leave no alternative to the con- 
clusion that both Judge Geddes and Mr. DeWitt were intent 
upon and absorbed with a determined purpose to advance the 
interests of that route to Ontario and thence to Lake Erie, 
which, in the years 1800 and 1803, had engaged the pen and 
dictated the conversation of Gouverneur Morris. 

Although Mr. Forman was elected in April, 1807 (elections 
being then in the spring), the first and regular session of that 
Legislature did not commence until January, 1S08; and Mr. 
Forman had time during that interval to inform himself in re- 
gard to the question, so important in the isolated condition of 
the people of Onondaga, upon which he had been especially 
elected. That he improved the time, to some extent, for that 
purpose, and for increasing his abilities for usefulness to the 
State as well as to his constituents, will appear from the sequel. 

In 1807, Mr. Forman was a lawyer, having his office at On- 
ondaga Hollow. James Geddes also lived in that vicinity. 
He writes in 1829: "Between the years 1804 and 180S I had 
often conversed with my neighbor, Judge Forman, on the sub- 
ject of the canal to Lake Erie." And Mr. Forman says he 
conversed freely with Judge Geddes on the subject. Beoajah 
Byington also lived in the same vicinity, and he held the office 
of Justice of the Peace. The Genesee Messenger was published 


in Canandaigua; and among its agents in most of the central 
counties in the State, who were authorized to receive subscrip- 
tions and payments for it, was Jasper Hopper, the Postmaster 
at Onondaga Hollow. Doctor Hosack says of this newspaper, 
"It was then extensively circulated." No newspaper but one 
of respectability and general circulation, would be likely to se- 
cure the services, as its agent, of such a man as Jasper Hopper. 

The first number of the series of essays by Jesse Hawley, 
signed " Hercules," had for its caption, "Observations on Ca- 
' nals," in full capital letters, and was published in the Genesee 
Messenger, October 27, 1807, occupying a conspicuous position 
on the first* page of the paper. The second number, in which 
the route for the canal is traced from Lake Erie to the Mohawk, 
was published November 3, 1807. The third and the fourth 
numbers, in which are discussed the length of time requisite, 
and the size of the canal that should be adopted, were pub- 
lished on the tenth and the seventeenth of November, 1807, re- 
spectively. The fifth number, in which the probable cost of 
such a canal and its commercial utility are treated of, was pub- 
lished November 24, 1807. The sixth number, in which its 
agricultural and commercial importance is profoundly dis- 
cussed, was published December 8, 1S07. The seventh and 
the eighth numbers, which are devoted to the question of the 
resources of capital, were published respectively on the fifteenth 
and the twenty-second of December, 1S07. The remaining 
numbers are devoted to pointing out other improvements in 
various portions of the United States; number ten, particularly, 
showing the great resources and the growing power of the State 
of New York, if this canal shall be constructed, and setting 
forth the project for the Champlain Canal. 

As has been already remarked, the impartial reader of those 
essays will not be in doubt about their originality. Doctor 
Hosack says of them, " They must have had great influence in 
preparing the legislative measures that succeeded." 

The action of Mr. Forman in the Assembly, for procuring 


surveys in the interior, was in February, 1808, three months 
subsequent to the date of the newspaper which contained the 
delineation of the route for the canal; and as Mr. Forman was 
not under the necessity of leaving his home to take his seat in 
that Legislature until January, and his neighbor, Jasper Hop- 
per, the Postmaster, was the agent for the Genesee Messenger, 
and of course was early supplied with every number of that 
newspaper, Mr. Forman had ample opportunity to study all 
those essays which related to the Erie Canal, before going to 
enter upon his official duties at Albany. And the coincidence* 
between the views set forth and the language used by Mr. For- 
man, in his speech in support of the resolution he then offered, 
and the views and language of " Hercules," in the essays pub- 
lished on the third, tenth and twenty-fourth of November, and 
on the fifteenth of December, 1807, suggests the probability 
that they originated in one and the same mind; and also, that 
the promulgations of "Hercules" had stimulated Mr. Forman 
to the study of that lengthy and abstruse dissertation on canals 
in the sixth volume of Rees' Encyclopedia, which he did after 
arriving in Albany. 

Benajah Byington and Jesse Hawley had some correspond- 
ence upon this subject in August, 1835, which was published 
at the time. 

Judge Oliver R. Strong, an early resident of Syracuse, and of 
the first respectability, says: "In the years 1807 and 1S08 I 
knew Benajah Byington very well. He was a Justice of the 
Peace, was a man of good education and general cultivation 
and respectability, and any letters he would write in regard to 
public matters, or to historic or cuirent events in that vicinity, 
would be entitled to entire credibility; his veracity was unques- 
tionable." And Judge Strong adds: "I know Byington must 
have been intimate with Forman, and often in his office." 

Mr. Byington wrote to Mr. Hawley under date of August 26, 
1835, from which letter I quote a follows: "I can state from 
recollection which is very distinct on the subject, that I lived 


near Joshua Forman (then a lawyer in Onondaga Hollow) in 
the years 1806, 1807 and 1808; that 1 was often in his office in 
those years, and there I saw the newspaper called the Genesee 
Messenger, containing a series of publications on the subject of 
a route for a canal from Lake Erie to Utica, and recollect hear- 
ing remarks made at that time by Mr. Forman and others, on 
the subject of those publications. I spent a part of the winter 
of 1819-20 in Albany, with Judge Forman. In a conversation 
while there, he asked me if I recollected the publications which 
we had seen many years before in the Genesee Messenger, and 
had noticed how nearly the route there laid down corresponded 
with the route that had been adopted and was then in progress. 
I told him I had not seen those papers since about the time of 
their publication. He then invited me to go with him to El- 
kanah Watson's, who kept a file of that paper. Mr. Watson pro- 
duced a file of the papers alluded to, and we amused ourselves 
in comparing the route you had proposed, with the actual line 
adopted by the Commissioners, and were all surprised that so lit- 
tle deviation from the route you had laid down, had taken place. 
It was from them that I first learned that Jesse Hawley was the 
author of those publications, and from the conversation there had 
I supposed they believed Jesse Hawley to be the first projector 
of the route of the canal which had been adopted by the State." 

From Mr. Hawley's letter to Mr. Byington, I also quote the 
following: "While I claim the reputation of having first writ- 
ten on the subject of an overland canal, Judge Forman and 
Judge Wright have the prominent reputation of being the first 
legislators who gave it an official consideration, and set the ball 
of the project in motion; and it is highly gratifying to my feel- 
ings to learn from you that Judge Forman derived his first idea 
of it from my writings. This fact was, indeed, intimated tome 
by Dr. Thomas H. Rawson, formerly Superintendent of the 
Public Salt Works." 

Dr. Rawson was Superintendent of the salt springs in the 
year 1S08; and, occupying a public and official position, he 


might be expected to confer freely with Mr. Forman upon mat- 
ters of public interest. We have seen that those essays of " Her- 
cules" were "the original and the first publication of the project 
for the overland route of the canal;" and that the author of them 
did not " receive the suggestion as coming from Gouverneur 
Morris." We also learn from the well authenticated sources 
which have been set forth, that those essays did furnish both the 
inspiration and the material for that legislation initiated by Mr. 
Forman in February, 1808; and as we have the statements of 
both Mr. Forman and James Geddes, that they were on terms 
of frequent and friendly intercourse during several years about 
that period, and often conversed together on the subject of in- 
ternal improvements, freely exchanging views and plans with 
each other, the conclusion is unavoidable, that they both de- 
rived their first impressions in favor of an overland route to 
Lake Erie, from the same source. 

The Genesee Messenger had its agent, the Postmaster in that 
village, the County-seat of Onondaga, and the paper must have 
been very generally seen and read there; Mr. Geddes and Mr. 
Forman were reading and thinking men; both were diligently 
seeking information in regard to any measures that would be 
likely to benefit the country of their residence; and we cannot 
perpetrate such an indignity to their intelligence and patriotism, 
nor so entirely disregard all the known evidences bearing upon 
the case, as to permit a doubt that both of those gentlemen 
read the essays of "Hercules" in November and December, 
1807, within forty-eight hours after the newspapers which con- 
tained them were printed. 

In addition, therefore, to the claim of priority and originality 
in regard to the project of an overland canal, made by and in 
behalf of the author of the "Hercules" essays, I also claim, as 
the inevitable conclusion from all the recorded facts and cir- 
cumstances connected with the subject which are known to 
the public, that James Geddes received his first intimations 
of that project from the communications of Jesse Hawley. 

35"o -3^7 





The treaty of peace concluded between the United States 
and Great Britain in 1815, fixed the boundary between the two 
countries on our frontier along the principal branch of the Ni- 
agara River. A dispute as to which was the principal branch 
was settled in 1S1S by Commissioners appointed by the two 
Governments, and it was thus determined that Grand Island 
belonged to the United States. While the matter was unde- 
cided, a large number of lawless persons, mostly refugees from 
justice from both sides of the river, settled upon this island, 
locating principally along the shores. Remaining for some 
time unmolested, they began to commit extensive depredations 
upon the timber; and, finally, they .formed an independent Gov- 
ernment, and elected a full quota of municipal officers. In 
April, 1S19, the Legislature of the State of New York passed 
an Act authorizing the removal of the trespassers; and, during 
the succeeding summer, the Governor issued a proclamation 
commanding them to desist from their depredations upon the 
property of the State, and to remove forthwith from the island. 

A few obeyed the command; but when no active demonstra- 
tions were made by the Government, they returned and con- 


tinued their trespass. In the fall of 1819, Governor Clinton 
directed Colonel James Cronk, the Sheriff of Niagara County, 
which then embraced Erie County, to call out a sufficient mil- 
itary force and forcibly expel the intruders; and on the ninth 
of December, 1819, the Sheriff, accompanied by Lieutenants 
Benjamin Hodge and Stephen Osborn, two sergeants, four cor- 
porals and twenty-four privates, went to the island in boats 
manned by twenty boatmen, to carry into execution the orders 
of the Governor. The military were divided into three parties; 
a vanguard to read the Governor's orders and assist in clear- 
ing the houses, a second party to forcibly remove all property 
left in the buildings, and a rear guard to burn the buildings 
and complete the removal and destruction. Seventy houses 
were burned, and one hundred and fifty people, — men, women 
and children, — were turned out shelterless upon the shores of 
the United States and Canada, as the boatmen took them to 
either shore which they might select. 

The removal and destruction occupied five days, and cost 
the State five hundred and sixty-eight dollars and ninety-nine 
cents. A few of the expelled families returned immediately, 
but did not remain permanently. 

When Sheriff Cronk received his order to undertake the ex- 
pedition, he made a requisition upon Lieutenant Hodge to 
call his company into service. Being the orderly sergeant of 
that company, I was directed to summon the men to meet at 
the rendezvous on the northeast corner of Main and Eagle 
streets in Buffalo, now occupied by Farthing's meat shop.* The 
order was promptly obeyed, and the company marched down 
Niagara River to a point opposite the head of Grand Island, 
the boats being in readiness there to transport us across the 
river, where we landed about five o'clock in the afternoon. 

*A site which in former days was made conspicuous, during the exciting election times of 
u Tippecanoe and Tyler too," by the Whig Log Cabin, and was long occupied by what \\ as 
then one of Buffalo's chief places of amusement, McArthur's Garden; but is now (iSSol 
covered with biibincs^ buildings. 


Captain William Dickson, lately deceased in this city, and long 
and favorably known as one of our lake captains, and Captain 
Benjamin Fowler, of Buffalo, also deceased, are the only ones 
of the boats' crews I now remember. 

A rumor having prevailed in this village that the inhabitants 
upon the island had made formal preparations to resist our 
landing, Lieutenant Hodge had taken the precaution to have 
our guns loaded with ball cartridge; but we landed without 
opposition, and unloaded our boats, and prepared to encamp 
for the night, after placing men on guard and picket duty. 

The next morning, after breakfast, the expedition took up 
the line of march, — the vanguard in advance, of whom John L. 
Kimberly, Esq., of Buffalo, was one, and who is the only per- 
son now living, beside myself, that I know of, who served upon 
this occasion. We marched directly to the Canada side of the 
island, and the first building we found was occupied by a man 
and his wife. The Sheriff gave them the choice to go either to 
Canada or the United States, and as they chose the former, 
their property was placed upon boats, and with them landed in 
Canada, and we destroyed the building by fire. We continued 
our course down the river, burning the first day seven or eight 
buildings, and removing the people, with their effects, to Can- 
ada. The next morning we found a man and a woman living 
in a very comfortable log house, but destitute of furniture and 
provisions. He begged of Sheriff Cronk to let them remain, 
and said that he had a wife in the United States and the 
woman a husband in Canada; and that they were thus placed 
in a peculiarly unpleasant situation by reason of their seeking 
affinities not recognized by the law of either country. After a 
considerable time spent in conversation, the Sheriff concluded 
to let them alone, and gave them some provisions and two 
quarts of whisky, and they gave their promise to soon quit the 
country. We continued on the same course, and found a 
number of uninhabited houses, which we destroyed accord- 
ing to orders. 


The third day we came across an old Irishman by the name 
of Denison,* who was busy at work with a number of men, put- 
ting up several houses. I think he had no family of his own 
on the island at the time, except one or two sons. He claimed 
a right to remain, and told the Sheriff that he had discovered 
the secret of perpetual motion, and if the Sheriff would let him 
alone he would give him one-half interest in his discovery; but 
Colonel Cronk told him he must put his perpetual motion in 
use and leave the island at once, and ordered all the buildings 
to be torn down. Being built of green logs they would not 
burn, and we did not then remove him to Canada, but left him, 
on his promise to go immediately, which he did. There were 
but two or three buildings destroyed during the remainder of 
that day. 

The fourth night we stayed at a house occupied by a man 
and his wife, who appeared much above those whom we had 
visited. They were very well supplied with provisions for the 
winter, and in almost every manner were exceptions to the 
other inhabitants. They stated that they came from Connect- 
icut, and had been on the island but a short time. That night 
the Sheriff and officers concluded they would go over to Can- 
ada on a spree; and, leaving about seven o'clock, returned at 
one in the morning, pretty well used up. Warrants had been 
issued in Canada for their arrest, and they left just in time to 
save their bacon. 

The fifth and last day, we left the lower end of the west side 
of the island, early in the morning, for home. The only clear- 
ing we saw during the time was about eighty to one hundred 
acres of most excellent sandy soil. By the time we had reached 
the east side of the island the boats had come around the lower 
end, and were just in time to accompany us up the river. About 
half wav across the island we saw a lanie deserted building. 
which, from appearances, had been used as a cooper's shop for 

♦Sec vol. I, pa;»e 3:7. — Ed. 


the dressing of staves. On it was posted a precept issued by 
one of the Justices of the Peace, and executed by one of their 
constables, and commencing, "In the name of the People of 
Grand Island." We continued on our march up the river, but I 
think saw no buildings on the American side of the island until 
we arrived at the dwelling occupied by Pendleton Clark, who 
had been styled by some of the inhabitants as Governor Clark.* 
We found that he had anticipated our arrival, and had placed 
his household effects upon a scowboat, in readiness to leave at 
a moment's warning. 

After a long conversation with the Sheriff, and upon his 
promise to leave, we took our march for the head of the island, 
the boats having gone on before us; and then re-crossed the 
Niagara to the main shore, and stayed, I think, at Seely's Tav- 
ern that night, and I footed it home. 

Thus ended the execution of Governor Clinton's orders and 
the Expedition to Grand Island; an event which has nearly 
been lost to the remembrance of our people. 

The inhabitants, with one exception, chose to go to Canada; 
they were very poor, and I do not think I saw a cow or a hog 
on the island. We had supposed that we should find plenty 
of game, and kept one or two hunters out, but they brought in 
only squirrels and wild duck. I have seen it stated that there 
were two buildings, filled with grain, destroyed, but such was 
not the fact; and I do not believe that there were two bushels 
of grain of any kind upon the island. Mr. Clark told me after- 
wards at rny store in Buffalo, that, finding that the Canal Com- 
missioner had commenced work on the Erie Canal and was 
engaged upon the Tonawanda Creek, he went directly to Bata- 
via, where the Holland Land Company kept its office, and took 
up that section of land where now stands the Village of Pendle- 
ton, named so by him; but he never alluded to his Grand Island 
adventure, in our conversation. 

*Scc vol. I, page 307. — Ed. 

3J-6 -3 



INTEREST, IN 1817 AND 1818. 



We cannot appreciate the wonderful physical development 
and the expansion of our country in all that constitutes mater- 
ial progress, in any better manner than by considering the pre- 
sent and the past when placed in immediate comparison. Fifty 
years ago, — not a period of years long enough to invest those 
days with the silver glory of antiquity, but after all, the change 
partakes of the marvelous, and the prophetic voice that then 
had dared to syllable of the present, would have been rebuked 
with the smile of incredulity. 

I have lately been perusing the first volume of "The Amer- 
ican Monthly Magazine and Critical Review," published in 
New York in 1S17, and issued in monthly numbers; and have 
been afforded so much of amusement in the general matter of 
the book, and derived so much information concerning things 
and events of local interest, that I deemed it a pleasant task to 
set down in some consecutive form such items as appeared of in- 
terest. The first number, issued in May, 1S17, contains a scath- 
ing review of Canto 3 of Byron's Childe Harold, then just issued 
to the world; and the only wonder is, if we can repose any con- 


fidence in the assertions of the critic, that the name of that 
distinguished poet has not long since faded into forgetfulness; 
but as the same article condemns the Christabel of Coleridge 
to everlasting obscurity, and as the fame of those poets has 
grown as the world waxed old, we can but think that the gen- 
ius who presided over the literary department of the number 
made some mistake in his observations. He was nearer right, 
when in the succeeding pages he devours the whole of Captain 
James Riley's narrative, with all its Munchausen tales, and 
sounds its praises as being entitled to all credit and respect. 

Each number contains an account of the proceedings at the 
monthly meeting of the New York City Historical Society, in 
which such venerable names as Samuel Mitchell, David Hosack 
and DeWitt Clinton appear as active members; and also an 
epitome of religious intelligence, a summary of historical events, 
not only for our country but the whole world, and- a chapter of 
domestic occurrences in each State, embracing particularly mar- 
riages and deaths, as well as wonderful events. It is principally 
to the consideration of these last named particulars that this 
memorandum is devoted. 

In political intelligence, we find related a circumstantial ac- 
count of the attempt upon the life of the Prince Regent, on his 
return from the House of Lords, and of the formidable con- 
spiracy in England and Scotland for the avowed object of rev- 
olution in the Church and State; of the suspension of the Habeas 
Corpus Act, which was tolerated by the free-born Britons, who 
could not allow a similar proceeding in our Republic when en- 
gaged in conquering the most formidable rebellion the world 
ever witnessed. 

It appears, also, that earthquakes were then in fashion; for 
an account is given of the shocks experienced at Kingston, 
Upper Canada, and at Ogdensburg, exciting general apprehen- 
sion. Wonders then existed which would have attracted the 
attention of a Barnum; for a full account is given of a prodig- 
ious fish which came on shore below Quebec, whose dimensions 


were enormous, of which some idea may be formed from its 
protruding and breaking whole fields of ice, of extraordinary 
thickness, in its career; that it drew the admiration of hundreds, 
and a great portion of the inhabitants were employed in cut- 
ting the blubber into chunks, to be reduced into oil, of which 
the account says it would afford some thousand of barrels, etc. 

Under date of Montreal, April 5, we learn by an adver- 
tisement from the Lieutenant-Governor's office at York (now 
Toronto), that a canal communication from Kingston to La- 
Chine (just above Montreal) by the River Rideau, is to be se- 
riously undertaken. Then was the commencement of that sys- 
tem of water improvement by which it has been sought to 
turn the channel of commerce through the British Possessions 
to the ocean. 

Under the head of Albany, April 8, we are informed that 
the Legislature had adjourned, after a session of three months; 
and among the most prominent bills passed was one provid- 
ing for the immediate commencement of the canals which 
were to connect the waters of the lakes with those of the Hud 
son; and that the Board of Commissioners were to take im 
mediate measures for the commencement of that gigantic work, 
whose cost was estimated at the fabulous sum of §4,881,733. 

How little did those legislators imagine of the wealth untold 
to be lavished in after years upon that work; of the millions to 
be stolen by contractors and engineers; of the enlargements 
and double-locks; and of its national importance in our gen- 

The same date tells, also, of the law passed March 31, 1S17, 
for the final and total abolition of slavery in this State, to take 
effect July 4, 1S27. Few men of our day are aware that it is 
only forty years since human slavery existed in this State; and 
when we look back forty years and bear witness to the total 
eradication of that barbarous system within the limits of the 
Republic, we can hardly realize that such a radical change can 
have been accomplished in one generation. 


An advertisement in the Buffalo Gazette of January 27, 1818, 
contains the last public record of the institution of slaver)' in 
Buffalo. It is as follows: 

" For Sale. — A young, healthy black woman and child. She understands 
all kinds of house-work and cooking, and is perfectly honest. For further 
particulars inquire at this office." 

Another law passed at the same session by which imprison- 
ment for debt for sums not exceeding twenty-five dollars was 
abolished, and thus another relic of barbarism was swept from 
the Statute-book. The Council of Appointment, it is stated, 
had appointed Samuel Wilkeson, of Buffalo, to be Judge for 
Niagara County. 

By a reference to the files of the Buffalo Gazette, it appears 
that the appointments made at the time for Niagara County 
were as follows: 

Judges and Justices — Oliver Forward, Charles Townsend, 
Samuel Wilkeson, Gideon Frisbee and Samuel Russell. 

Surrogate — Ebenezer Johnson. 

Coroners — Samuel Fillmore, Joseph Landon and L. Cook. 

Masters in Chancery — Jonas Harrison (the father of James 
C. Harrison, Esq.), Albert H. Tracy and James M. Stevens. 

Auctioneer — Lothrop Cook, of Lewiston. 

The original commission signed by Daniel D. Tompkins, 
Governor, issued to Judges Forward, Townsend, Wilkeson and 
others, is in the possession of Mr. Charles Townsend Rich, son 
of Andrew J. Rich, Esq., and grandson of Judge Townsend; 
and is preserved as a family memento. 

Under the head of marriages, we learn that Mr. Noah Fol- 
som and Miss Mary Gilman were married at Buffalo. 

From Pennsylvania, we are told that "an Association is spoken 
of at Philadelphia to establish a line of wagons between that 
city and Pittsburg, to start at fixed times; and, by traveling day 
and night, to make the journey in seven days." It is well to 
observe that this project is only spoken of, for no doubt such 
an undertaking, involving such velocity, could never have been 


carried out with success. From Virginia, we learn that Major- 
General Winfield Scott was married near Richmond to Miss 
Maria D. Mayo; a romantic affair which has long since been a 
matter of newspaper discussion. The Buffalo Gazette of Au- 
gust 19, announces that on the preceding Tuesday, "General 
Scott and lady arrived in this village. On Wednesday, they 
passed across the Niagara, and after reviewing the theater of 
the contending armies in 1814, we understand, were to embark 
in the steamboat Ontario for Sackett's Harbor." 

An extract from a letter from a gentleman at Corydon, Indi- 
ana, is published, giving the following information: " Since the 
last sales of public lands in this State, land has risen in price, 
and population has increased at a rate vastly over any period 
heretofore. Our seat of government is established at this place 
(Corydon) for nine years; the permanent seat will undoubtedly 
be in that section of the State at this time belonging to the 
Delaware Indians. There is no probability of a removal, till 
that country is purchased and settled, nor is there a probabil- 
ity that any money reserved for the opening of great State 
roads or for public schools will be appropriated previous to the 
year 1820." 

Thus we see that fifty years ago the good people of Indiana 
were waiting to buy out the Delaware Indians before they 
could locate a seat of government; and that they had not com- 
menced the building of public roads or organized a common 
school system. But the poor Indians have disappeared before 
the advancing civilization of the pale-faces; the city of Indian- 
apolis is a capital in the center of their hunting grounds; a State 
has grown up like a giant, that furnished over one hundred and 
twenty-five thousand men in the war of the late rebellion, and 
cast over three hundred and forty thousand votes at the last 
Presidential election. 

Among items of foreign news it is stated that, on the twenty- 
fourth of February, ten thousand British troops arrived in Eng- 
land from France, being one-third of the army which had occu- 


pied Paris upon the downfall of Bonaparte; that Las Casas and 
his son had arrived at the Cape of Good Hope from St. Helena, 
and that Bonaparte, a few days before, in a fit of spleen, had 
cut up a quantity of plate and sold it, under the pretense that 
his allowance was not sufficient. 

The religious intelligence informs us that Father G., a Jesuit, 
expresses himself respecting the treasures of art which had 
been brought back from Paris to the monastery at Erfurt. 
Among the relics are many highly valuable, which may be re- 
garded as diamonds of the first water; as, for example, nine of 
the skulls of the eleven thousand virgins, a piece of the gown 
of the Virgin Mary, the tuning hammer belonging to David's 
harp, and many other similar treasures. He omitted to men- 
tion the sword that Balaam wished for with which to smite 
his ass. 

In the June number is an epitome of the report of the Canal 
Commissioners, from which the following extract is made: 

" The dimensions of the Western or Erie Canal and locks, ought in the 
opinion of the Commissioners, to be as follows, viz: Widih on the surface, 
forty feet; at the bottom, twenty-eight feet; and depth of water, four feet; 
the length of a lock ninety feet, and its width twelve feet in the clear. Ves- 
sels carrying one hundred tons may navigate a canal of this size, and all the 
lumber produced in the country and required for market may be transported 
upon it. From their own examination, the Commissioners determined that 
it would be expedient to connect the west end of the great canal with the 
waters of Lake Erie, through the mouth of Buffalo Creek. In adopting this 
determination they were influenced by the following considerations: It is 
important to have at that end a safe harbor, capable, without much expense, 
of sufficient enlargement for the accommodation of all boats and vessels, that 
a very extensive trade may hereafter require to enter and exchange their 
lading there. The waters of Lake Eric are higher at the mouth of the Buf- 
falo Creek than they are at Bird Island or any point further down the 
Niagara, and every inch gained in elevation will produce- a large saving in 
the expense of excavation throughout the Lake Erie level." 

This extract carries us back to the time when the decision 
spoken of, of making Buffalo Creek in place of Black Rock the 



termination of the Erie Canal, was arrived at, and laid the 
foundation of the splendid city in which we live. 

Under the head of literary intelligence, it is stated that Mr. 
Charles Phillips is preparing for the press, speeches delivered 
by him at the bar and on various public occasions; a work which 
was long since familiar to every school-boy; that Miss Edge- 
worth had a new volume in press, and that the new poem on 
which Mr. Thomas Moore has been for some time engaged, is 
an Oriental romance, entitled, " Lalla Rookh." We learn also 
that the President had promoted our brave and distinguished 
fellow-citizen, Major-General Bennett Riley, now deceased, 
from the rank of Second Lieutenant to be a First Lieutenant 
in the regular army. Little did the young officer dream of the 
glories of Cherubusco and Mexico, and of the respect and ad- 
miration of a grateful people. 

The real and personal property of Niagara County, embrac- 
ing the present counties of Erie and Niagara, are stated at 
$ 2 >779>9$S; no doubt a fabulous amount at that early period. 

Under the head of marriages, it is mentioned that our well- 
known and respected fellow-citizen, James L. Barton, was 
married at Buffalo to Sally M. Horner; and the death of Mr. 
William Wilgus is mentioned as occurring at this place. An 
account is given of the first anniversary meeting of the Ameri- 
can Bible Society, which was held at Washington Hall, in New 
York City, May 8. 

In the July number, it is announced that DeWitt Clinton 
has been elected Governor of the State of New York; that the 
Commissioners of the canal fund had advertised for a loan of 
two hundred thousand dollars, which was immediately taken 
up by Prime, Ward <Sc Sands; that Jesse Hawley had been ap- 
pointed Collector of the Port of Buffalo in place of Caleb Hop- 
kins, resigned; that President Monroe arrived in New York 
June 11, and was received with great honors and made an 
honorary member of the New York Historical Society, — an 
honor which the Buffalo Historical Society omitted to pay to 


President Johnson on the occasion of his Presidential tour. 

The ^chronicles of that month tell that Sylvester Matthews 
was married at Buffalo to Miss Louisa Haddock, and that a 
like catastrophe happened at Batavia to Mr. Trumbull Cary 
and Miss Margaret Brisbane. 

An article concerning Russia and its progress states as fol- 
lows: "Russia seems disposed to extend her already colossal 
empire by new acquisitions of territory. Her settlement and 
establishments on the north-west coast of America are annually 
extended. We lately hear of her disposition to obtain the 
island of Malta in the Mediterranean, and learn more recently 
that she has taken possession of Otaha, one of the Society 
Islands, in the Pacific Ocean, or in their vicinity, and fortified 
it. It is not unlikely that at no very distant period her claims 
and interests may seriously conflict with ours on the western 
shores of our continent." Fifty years have elapsed, and we 
men of this day have seen that the only conflict between her 
claims and interests and those of our country, which has oc- 
curred to this time, has cost the Republic seven million dollars 
in gold, for the glorious but barren privilege of planting the 
Stars and Stripes upon the peak of Mount Elias. 

An item of expeditious traveling is also given, as follows: 
"Accidentally, a circumstance came to our knowledge, of the 
truth of which any one who chooses may be informed from the 
fountain head. Captain Roosback, on Wednesday morning last, 
took command of the steamboat Chancellor Livingston, and 
with her left Albany at nine in the morning; and at five on the 
following morning, being twenty hours, he arrived in New 
York. The succeeding morning, at seven, he left New York 
again in her, and arrived at Albany at five the next morning, 
being twenty-two hours." 

In the August number, it is stated, among the items of relig- 
ious intelligence, that the Rev. William Bacon had been or- 
dained to the work of the Gospel ministry, as an Evangelist, by 
the Presbytery of \ T 'a</ara at Puffalo. 


The Ohio paper of that time informs us that Governor Cass, 
of Michigan Territory (and there are those here who will re- 
member when Lewis Cass was Governor Cass), had been in- 
vested with power to treat with the Indians for the extinguish- 
ment of their title to the land in that State. 

Also, that on the thirtieth of June, there arrived at Cincin- 
nati a small schooner-built boat from Rome, on the Mohawk, 
in thirty days. The boat was conducted by a Captain Dean 
and four Indians; passengers, two squaws and an Indian boy. 
They sailed on the same day for the Wabash. Their avowed 
object was to enter on lands in behalf of their tribe; then 
ascend the Wabash to its source; cross with their boat to the 
Miami, and return by the way of Lake Erie. This boat left 
Rome on the first of June; passed into Lake Ontario by the 
way of Wood Creek, Oneida Lake and Oswego River; went 
up Ontario, was carried around Niagara Falls on wheels, 
eleven miles; then proceeded by Buffalo across the end of 
Lake Erie to Cattaraugus Creek, and up that to a portage of 
eight and a half miles, into the River Allegany. 

This number contains a favorable criticism upon the Lalla 
Rookh of Moore, and upon the works of Mr. Walter Scott; 
which was very good of the editor, and for which those gen- 
tlemen were, probably, much obliged. 

At a meeting of the Lyceum of Natural History, in New 
York City, July 28, 1817, a paper was read containing some 
facts in relation to the locusts of America, communicated by 
Charles G. Olmstead, Esq., then a lawyer at Buffalo, and sub- 
sequently District Attorney of Niagara County. 

The following article is published as extracted from a paper 
printed at Erie, Pennsylvania: 

"On the third of July, thirty miles below this place, and 
three miles from land, the crew of the schooner General Scott 
saw a serpent thirty-five or forty feet in length, and its neck, 
which it put out of the water a few yards from the vessel, ten 
or twelve inches in diameter. Its color was a dark mahogany, 


nearly black. The lake was smooth, and they had a perfect 
view of it for more than a minute." The article does not 
mention any extraordinary phenomena as occurring upon the 

As wonders, as well as other things, come double, an ac- 
count is also given of a sea serpent then lately seen in the har- 
bor of Gloucester, Massachusetts, which had deservedly ex- 
cited a great deal of attention. This monster of the deep, 
whose existence had hitherto been deemed fabulous, "has been 
seen," the account says, "day after day, by hundreds of our ad- 
venturous citizens, who have employed every means to capture 
and destroy it. Its head is said to be as large as that of a 
horse, its body of the size of a barrel, and its length from 
eighty to one hundred feet." 

A discovery is recorded of a good harbor on Lake Erie, half 
way between Buffalo and Erie. It is called Dunkirk, and is 
in the County of Chautauqua. The bay is semi-circular and 
well sheltered, with a good channel; and its convenience for 
trade and navigation is great. 

In regard to the same harbor, the Buffalo Gazette of July 22, 
181 7, has an article as follows: 

" New Name. — The place near the mouth of Canadaway 
Creek and Lake Erie, which was formerly known as Chad- 
wick's Bay, has lately been called Garnsey's Bay; and a village 
has recently been planned at the head of said bay, which is 
called Dunkirk." 

The old story is told of great damage by rains in the Valley 
of the Mohawk; another serpent is reported to have been seen 
in Lake Erie; and it is recorded that President Monroe arrived 
at Plattsburg and proceeded to Sackett's Harbor, thence to 
Fort Niagara, and having gone over the battle grounds in that 
vicinity, continued on his journey, through Buffalo, to Detroit. 

The Niagara Gazette, published at Buffalo on Tuesday, Aug- 
ust 12, 1 S 1 7, thus speaks of the arrival of President Monroe 
at Buffalo: 


"On Friday morning last, His Excellency James Monroe, 
President of the United States, accompanied by Major-General 
Brown, arrived at Fort Niagara on the United States sloop 
Jones from Sackeu's Harbor. After inspecting the works at 
the Fort, the President passed up the Niagara and slept at 
Judge Porter's at the Falls. On Saturday, about noon, His 
Excellency and General Brown were met at Black Rock by a 
committee of this village, who were accompanied by a number 
of citizens, and escorted our respected Chief Magistrate 
through Main Street to Landon's tavern, where an appropriate 
address was delivered him by the committee, to which the 
President made a short extemporaneous reply. A number of 
citizens were introduced to the President, who, after dining at 
Mr. Landon's, took passage in the United States schooner Por- 
cupine, Capt. Packer, of Detroit." 

The tavern called Landon's tavern was a large wooden build- 
ing on the south side of Exchange Street, then known as Crow 
Street, and half way between Main and Washington streets, 
and was built immediately after the burning of Buffalo by the 
British and Indians. It is described in an advertisement of 
June 9, 1S1S, as pleasantly situated at the southern extremity 
of the Village of Buffalo. This site was called the extremity of 
the village, because it was on the brow of the hill and nothing 
but a swampy flat between it and the Buffalo Creek, upon which 
no building of any consequence had been erected. 

The same paper states that the Eastern stage leaves Landon's 
tavern, Buffalo, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, at five 
o'clock, a. m., and the stage goes through to Canandaigua in 
two days. 

The September number contains an account bordering upon 
the marvelous, as follows: 

"A party of gentlemen from Boston recently performed the 
following tour, viz: From Boston via Albany to Saratoga 
Springs; thence by land to Buffalo; thence down the river, and 
the whole length of Lake Ontario, stopping at Oswego, Sackett's 


Harbor, &c; thence down the St. Lawrence, stopping at Og- 
densburg, and Montreal, to Quebec; thence overland through 
the Province of Lower Canada, part of Vermont and New 
Hampshire, by Concord, to Boston. This route, which was by 
stages and steamboats, and made nearly seventeen hundred 
miles in thirty days, with stops of one day in several places, 
and two days at Quebec, and without any apparent fatigue, dis- 
plays the astounding facility of traveling over a country, a great 
part of which, twenty years before, was a howling wilderness." 

It is also recorded, as a wonderful fact, that there were in the 
port of Buffalo, on the tenth of August, 1817, thirty-eight sail 
of vessels; being one brig, thirty-one schooners and six sloops. 

The marriage of Isaac Kibbe, Esq., President of the Bank 
of Niagara, and father of George R. Kibbe, Esq., to Mrs. Serene 
Grosvenor, is mentioned as having occurred at Buffalo. 

The Buffalo Gazette of September 16, 181 7, states that, "on 
Wednesday last, Joseph Bonaparte, Esq., ex-King of Spain, ar- 
rived in this village. The next day he passed down the river 
and viewed the Falls; after which he returned to this place, and 
on Saturday proceeded to Erie. He was accompanied by sev- 
eral French gentlemen." 

The same paper, of the date of September 2, speaks of 
a large and valuable arrival of furs at Buffalo, as follows: 
" Last week the schooner Tigress and sloop Hannah deposited 
the largest and most valuable lot of furs ever seen before in 
this village. They consisted of beaver, otter, muskrat and bear 
skins and buffalo robes. Three hundred and twenty-two packs 
were consigned to Hart & Lay, and owned by John Jacob As- 
tor, of New York; and one hundred packs were consigned to 
Townsend & Coit, belonging to several owners. The value of 
these furs is figured at one hundred and fifty thousand dollars." 

The sloop Hannah, named in this account, was a large ves- 
sel of forty-three tons burthen, owned by Townsend & Coit; 
and her enrollment may be found at the rooms of our Histori- 
cal Society. 


From Michigan Territory the news is given, that " it is said 
that twenty-five families from Genesee County, in the State of 
New York, have recently arrived, with the intention of settling at 
the River Raisin (near Monroe.)" Then began that tide of emi- 
gration to the far West, which in the early days rolled through 
Buffalo and peopled the western wilds with freedom-loving men. 

The November number contains a statement in reference to 
the Erie Canal, which shows that men in those days of primeval 
simplicity had not been educated to disregard the ordinary 
principles of honesty in public affairs. It is as follows: 

" The canal continues to be worked with great success. Con- 
tracts have been made for the construction of the canal as far 
as Montezuma, and at a rate that is uniformly lower than is 
the estimate of the Commissioners. The difference, in the dis- 
tance already let out, between the estimate and the con- 
tract, is about five hundred thousand dollars. Cessions of 
land have been very readily made on almost the whole of 
the route already contracted for, and in some instances the 
cessions have been accompanied with offers of donations in 
money when requisite. In very few instances have there yet 
been claims for damages." Such circumstances will probably 
not appear concerning any public work in our day. 

A Louisville paper states that there are nine steamboats 
building on the waters of the Ohio and Mississippi, which, 
when done, will complete the number of twenty on those waters. 

In the proceedings of the Literary and Historical Society of 
New York City, it is stated that a* communication was laid be- 
fore the Society in the form of a letter, addressed to Joseph 
Ellicott, Esq., of Genesee County, from DeWitt Clinton, giv- 
ing an account of the flux and reflux of the waters of the 
great lakes of the State of New York. The observations of 
later years seem to have led to the opinion that the ri^e and 
fall of water in the lakes are subject to no laws, but depend 
upon the quantity of snow and rain falling each year in the 
valley of the lakes. 


The January number of 1818 contains an article relative to 
a new fish called the Notropis Atherinoides, described as "head 
silvery, brown above, body pale, fulvous, transparent, with a 
broad silver band; lateral line in the band, fins whitish, dorsal 
and with eleven rays, the first very short, slightly forked." 

History. " This new fish was discovered in Lake Erie by 
Gov. DeWitt Clinton, who had the kindness to present the So- 
ciety with many specimens; they are now deposited in the 
Lyceum of Natural History. I have ascertained (the writer 
adds) that they belong to a new genus next to AtJieri?ia y and 
the specific name I have adopted implies such an affinity. 
These fishes come on the shores of Lake Erie and even in the 
River of Niagara, in the spring, in great shoals; but are so small 
that they are scarcely noticed, and escape through the common 
nets, their usual size being from one to two inches, and very 
thin and slender; they are called minny or minnow, together 
with twenty other different species of fish, and often are con- 
sidered the young of other fishes." 

This is the first account we have designating the common 
minnow of Niagara River, — used so extensively for a bait, — as 
a distinct genus. 

The same number contains an account of the death of the 
celebrated John Philpot Curran, on the fourteenth of October, 
1 81 7; and amongst the news from Spanish America, is an ac- 
count of certain political disturbances in East Florida, then a 
portion of the Dominion of Spain. 

It is announced in the local news of the State of New York, 
that "on the first of December, 1817, seven young warriors of 
the Seneca Nation of Indians left Buffalo in the stage, under 
the charge of A. C. Fox, Esq., of that place, and Mr. VV. Brig- 
ham, of Chautauqua, to proceed to one of the sea-ports and 
embark for England. Their object is to exhibit themselves in 
all of the important towns of England; whence they will pro- 
ceed to Paris, and afterward probably complete the grand tour 
through Europe. The Indians are all fine-looking, active 


young men, and will afford the Europeans a very novel and 
interesting exhibition." 

The expedition alluded to subsequently sailed from Boston, 
and was well received in England, attracting great attention, 
especially among the benevolent; so much so that the ladies 
undertook the fruitless task of teaching the young savages the 
rudiments of English education,. and endeavored to enlighten 
them concerning the cardinal doctrines of the Christian re- 

The Emigrant, a newspaper published at St. Louis on the 
fourth of December,. contains the following paragraph: 

" It is said that living mammoths have lately been seen near 
the Rocky Mountains." 

It is stated in the same paper that one hundred dwelling 
houses had been erected in St. Louis that season. 

The literary and philosophical intelligence in the February 
number of 1818 informs us that Lord Byron had transmitted 
to London, for publication, a fourth Canto of Childe Harold, 
and that the coal owners on the rivers Tyne and Wear had 
given a dinner and a service of plate valued at ten thousand 
dollars to Sir Humphrey Davy, as an acknowledgment of his 
services in inventing the safety-lamp. 

This number contains the commencement of the account of 
the famous bribery case of Col. John Anderson, of Ohio. He 
attempted to bribe a representative in Congress, and was ar- 
rested; and the whole question of what constitutes privilege 
and bribery was for the first time discussed in the councils .of 
the Republic. So emphatic was the condemnation by the 
whole country, and especially by the Congress, of the at- 
tempted act of bribery, that it is confidently believed that no 
Senators or Representatives in Congress have since that time 
had their moral susceptibilities shocked by insulting offers of 
a pecuniary nature. 

A contemporary paper publishes an anecdote of Washington, 
which 1 think is not generally known, or if known, not gener- 


ally credited as an actual occurrence; but which will bear rela- 
tion, notwithstanding the evident anachronisms and absurdities 
in which it abounds. It is as follows: "After the independ- 
ence of the Americans was secured, they celebrated the festi- 
val of liberty at Philadelphia. In the great hall where the 
legislative body was assembled, they had placed an arm-chair 
upon a platform, and over it a canopy; there was a book of the 
Law of the Constitution of America. A crown adorned with 
jewels covered that respected and respectful volume. It was 
at this sitting that the immortal Washington resigned, in form, 
the command which he made to redound so much to the honor 
of his countrymen. After the ceremony was over, the Fabius 
of the United States took up the crown upon the book of the 
law, and ascending to the balcony at the foot of which there 
was a prodigious crowd of people, he showed it to the populace, 
dashed it to pieces before their eyes, and scattered the pieces 
among them. The history of the ancient republic offers noth- 
ing like the grandeur of this scene." The note-books of travel- 
ing and inquisitive Englishmen, abound in anecdotes of a simi- 
lar character, furnished to them by the fertile imaginations of 

A paper published at Detroit, Michigan Territory, estimates 
that fifteen thousand dollars were paid for the passage of in- 
dividuals between that place and Buffalo, from the tenth day 
of May to the tenth of November, 1817; and adds, that a steam- 
boat was to run on the lakes next spring. The steamboat al- 
luded to was the U\ilk'-in-tJie- Water, famous in the early annals 
of lake navigation. An account of the launch of this pioneer 
steamboat is given in the Niagara Patriot of June 2, 1S1S, as 
follows: "On Thursday last, according to previous arrange- 
ment, was launched the elegant steamboat at Black Rock, built 
by Mr. Brown of New York, who is one of the proprietors. 
She left the stocks a few minutes before one, and moved in fine 
style, without accident, into her destined element, amid the ac- 
clamations of the numerous spectators, who were highly grati- 


fied with the novelty of the scene. The boat is intended to 
ply between Black Rock and the City of Detroit, touching at 
some of the intermediate ports on the American side of the 
lake, and is expected to go into operation early in July." She 
was soon put into commission, and made regular trips from 
Black Rock to Detroit and return, in six days. A picture of 
the steamboat, now in possession of the Society, represents her 
with guards only where the paddle-boxes were, after the man- 
ner of ocean-going vessels; and with two masts, a standing top- 
sail and top-gallant, main-sail and jib. Several yoke of oxen 
were required to aid her steam-power, when coming up the 
rapids below where the Erie basin now is, until she anchored 
off Buffalo Creek to receive passengers. 

The March number gives an item copied from the York, 
Upper Canada, paper of the eighth of January, 1S18, as fol- 
lows: " About a quarter past five o'clock, on the evening of 
Wednesday, the thirty-first ultimo, a luminous body was ob- 
served in the air, which exploded in front of the town, with two 
loud reports and a strong blaze of light. The light and report 
were so instantaneous that although the noise was very gener- 
ally heard, few persons agree in the description of its appear- 
ance and course. Having only heard the noise, we are not able 
to describe the meteor, if it was one; some supposing that it 
was a mass of ignited matter thrown from the burning moun- 
tain at the head of the lake. Exactly at the same time of the 
year, in 1795, a shock of an earthquake was felt here, when a 
portion of Table Rock at the Falls of Niagara was thrown 
down: at this time, however, as far as we can learn, no tremor 
of the earth was felt." 

The burning mountain spoken of as being at the head of 
Lake Ontario is not known now to exist, nor can any account 
of it be found; and no recollection of it exists in the memory 
of the oldest inhabitant. 

The Niagara Gazette of March 17, iSiS, gives a list of the 


shipping then owned in Buffalo and employed in the merchant 
service, as follows: 

Schooner Michigan of 132 tons burthen. 

Brig Union of 104 M " 

Schooner Erie of 77 " M 

Sloop Hannah ..of 43 " " 

Schooner General Scott of 2t " " 

Total 377 tons. 

This glance at the chronicle of half a century ago, may not 
have been without interest to those who are willing to dwell 
for a moment upon the great events transpiring in the world in 
a few months of time. The items of local interest to us in this 
city, carry us back to a time when this Western New York was 
almost a wilderness — our city a hamlet — the agency of steam 
upon our lakes unknown; when the railroad and telegraph 
were unthought of. Half a century ago, and what a change; 
but what a change will be wrought in the next half-century, 
when they who may follow us will be gathered even as we are 
to-night, and, looking back to this present, contrast their glories 
of developed genius and civilization, with what they shall deem 
our primeval simplicity. 




I have been requested to state some of the early incidents 
of my life for the benefit of the Buffalo Historical Society; 
and in compliance with that request I proceed at once to the 
task. Believing that an humble origin affords no just cause of 
concealment or shame, — and certainly not, even when fortune 
has smiled, for vain-boasting and self-glorification, — I shall con- 
tent myself by stating that I am the second child and eldest 
son of Nathaniel Fillmore and Phebe Millard. I was born 
in Locke (now Summer Hill), Cayuga County, New York, on 
the seventh day of January, 1800. My father was a native of 
Bennington, Vermont; and my mother was a native of Pitts- 
field, Massachusetts. They were early settlers in what was 
then known as "The Military Tract." At the time of my 
birth, my father and his brother Calvin, and their wives, occu- 
pied the same log house in the midst of the forest, having no 
neighbor nearer than four miles. About two years after my 

Note.— This autobiography of the late Millard Fillmore, was written in 1871, at the re- 
quest of the Buffalo Historical Society, and deposited by him in its archives, under seal, 
not to be opened until after hi> death. 

The early struggles of an individual, who, unaided by adventitious circumstances, rose 
from ahumble origin, to the first position in ourcountry, told in his own simple language, 
is deemed worthy of preservation among the Publications of this Society. They may serve 
as an example and incentive to the rising generation, and as an evidence that honest labor 
is not degrading, and that the highest civic honors are within the reach of the industrious 
and persevering, when guided by moral principle and patriotic ambition. 


birth, my father met with what seemed at the time a great mis- 
fortune; but was (at least so far as I was concerned) a blessing 
in disguise. He lost all his property through a bad title to the 
property which he had purchased. I say this was a blessing 
in disguise, as the township where he had located, being high 
and cold, was one of the poorest in the whole Military Tract, 
and far removed from any thoroughfare or central point of 
business. In other words, it was completely shut out from all 
the enterprises of civilization and advancement, and remained 
so for more than half a century. My father then left the 
town, and removed into what was then Sempronius (now 
Niles), in the same county. Here he took a perpetual lease of 
a small farm of about one hundred and thirty acres, wholly 
uncultivated, and covered with heavy timber. He built a 
small log house and commenced clearing the land; and it was 
at this place and in these pursuits that I first knew anything 
of life. That farm is about one mile west of Skaneateles 
Lake, ten miles from its outlet, and about one mile east of a 
little hamlet called Newhope. 

I had, like most boys, a great passion for hunting and fish- 
ing, but my father was very unwilling to indulge it. He used 
to tell me that no man ever prospered who spent much of his 
time in hunting and fishing; and that those employments were 
only fit for Indians, or white men no better than they. Con- 
sequently, I had no gun, and could only enjoy the sport of 
shooting when 1 could borrow of a neighbor. Nevertheless, 
when I had any spare time I used to go down to the Lake, and 
fish and bathe in its limpid waters. It was indeed one of the 
clearest and most beautiful lakes which I have ever seen. The 
canoe seemed suspended in mid-air, and the fish could be seen 
at great depths. 

The town of Niles, and especially that part of it, was then 
very sparsely settled. There were no schools, except such as 
were improvised for the summer, and taught by a woman of 
very limited education. The first that I recollect was at New- 


hope, in an old deserted log house, which had been furnished 
with a few benches without backs, and a board for writing upon. 
In this school I learned my alphabet, at the age of six or seven. 
Of course nothing was taught but the most simple lessons in 
spelling and reading. When I was about ten years old, a man 
was employed by the name of Amos Castle, who gave us some 
instruction in writing and arithmetic, and drilled us most thor- 
oughly in Webster's spelling-book. I think I went through 
that book without missing in the spelling of a word; but I did 
not learn the definition of a single one. In fact, there was no 
such thing as a dictionary in school, and I had never seen one. 
From about the age of ten or eleven, I could not be spared 
from the farm during the summer, and therefore, only attended 
school for two or three months in the winter. Consequently, 
I forgot nearly as much during the summer as I learned in the 
winter. I, however, acquired some knowledge of arithmetic, 
and read Dwight's old geography of questions and answers 
enough to have acquired some knowledge of geography, had 
there been any such thing as a map or atlas in school; but I 
never saw either till I was nineteen years of age. 

When I was about twelve or thirteen, some effort was made 
to organize a school under our present admirable system of 
Common Schools; and after that there was some improvement 
in our teachers. One scholar had a copy of Morse's geogra- 
phy, which he permitted me to look at, and I devoured it with 
the greatest avidity. I recollect well the impression made up- 
on me by the account given of Brace's travels in Abyssinia. 

I continued thus to work upon the farm in summer, till I was 
in my fifteenth year. During that time, being large of my age 
and unusually strong, I learned to plow, to hoe, to chop, to log 
and clear land, to mow, to reap, and, finally, to do all kinds of 
work which is usually done in clearing and cultivating a new 
farm. But my father's misfortune in losing his land, and the 
scarcely less misfortune of having a hard, clayey soil for culti- 
vation, gave him a great distaste for farming; and he was, 


therefore, anxious that his sons should follow some other occu- 
pation. His means did not justify him or them in aspiring to 
any profession, and, therefore, he wished them to learn trades. 
In the fall of 1814, a neighbor had been drafted into the mili- 
tary service for three months, and he offered me what I re- 
garded as a very liberal sum to take his place as a substitute. 
I was foolish enough to desire to accept the offer, but at the 
same time a man by the name of Benjamin Hungerford, form- 
erly a near neighbor, but then living in Sparta, Livingston 
County, N. Y., where he had established the business of card- 
ing and cloth-dressing, came to my father and proposed to take 
me on trial for three months; then, if we were both suited, I 
was to become an apprentice to the business. My father per- 
suaded me to abandon the idea of becoming a soldier, and to 
go home with Mr. Hungerford to learn a trade. He had come 
with an old team to purchase dye-woods and other materials 
for his business, — his load was very heavy and the roads very 
bad, — consequently I had to go on foot most of the way, 
something like a hundred miles; but I endured this very well. 
Up to this time I had never spent two days away from home, 
and my habits and tastes were somewhat peculiar. For in- 
stance, I was very fond of bread-and-milk, and usually ate it 
three times a day, regardless of what others ate. And here I 
will say, I think that this early habit, and the thorough training 
afforded by out-door exercise on a farm, gave me a constitu- 
tion and digestive powers which have enabled me to preserve 
my health under all the vicissitudes of a varied life; and to my 
uniform good health and temperate habits I am chiefly in- 
debted, under Providence, for any success I have attained. 
But I found, when I got to Sparta, that milk was a luxury in 
which I could but seldom indulge. On the contrary, I was 
compelled to eat boiled salt pork, which I detested, with, oc- 
casionally, pudding and milk, and buckwheat cakes, or starve. 
This was very hard, but I did not complain. I was, however, 
more disappointed at the work I was required to do. I had 


become anxious to learn the trade, and supposed I should be 
put at once into the shop; instead of which I was set to chop- 
ping wood for a coal pit. I probably manifested some disap- 
pointment, but I was reconciled to the work by being told that 
charcoal was indispensable for cloth dressing; that I might be 
so situated that I could not purchase, and that therefore it was 
necessary to know how to make and burn a coal pit. 

I was the youngest apprentice, and soon found that I had to 
chop most of the wood, having very little opportunity to work 
in the shop; and as it seemed to me that I was made to enslave 
myself without any corresponding benefit, I became exceed- 
ingly sore under this servitude. One day when I had been 
chopping in the woods, I came into the shop just before dark, 
tired and dissatisfied; and Mr. Hungerford told me to take my 
axe and go up on the hill and cut some wood for the shop. I 
took up my axe, and said (perhaps not very respectfully) that I 
did not come there to learn to chop; and immediately left 
without waiting for a reply. I went on to the hill, mounted a 
log, and commenced chopping. Mr. Hungerford soon followed 
me up, and, coming near, asked me if I thought I was abused 
because I had to chop wood. I told him I did; that I came 
there for no such purpose, and could learn to chop at home; 
and that I was not disposed to submit to it. He said that I must 
obey his orders. I said: "Yes, if they are right; otherwise I 
will not; and I have submitted to this injustice long enough." 
He said: "I will chastise you for your disobedience;" and 
stepped towards me, as I stood upon the log, with my axe in 
my hand. I was burning with indignation, and felt keenly the 
injustice and insult, and said to him, "You will not chastise 
me;" and, raising my axe, said, "If you approach me I will 
split you down." He looked at me for a minute, and I looked 
at him; when he turned and walked off. I am veiy glad that 
he did so; for I was in a frenzy of anger, and know not what I 
might have done. I had dwelt in silence and solitude upon 
what I deemed his injustice, until I had become morbidly 


sensitive; and his spark of insolent tyranny kindled the whole 
into a flame. I do not justify my threat, and sincerely regret 
it; but the truth must be told. 

The next day he asked me if I wished to go home. I told 
him I was ready to go, or would stay the three months for 
which I came, if I could be employed in the shop. He said I 
might be, and so I remained until the time was up; when I 
shouldered my knapsack, containing bread and dried venison, 
and returned to my father's on foot and alone. Mr. Hunger- 
ford came after me next year, but I refused to go with him. 

I think that this injustice, which was no more than other 
apprentices have suffered and will suffer, had a marked effect 
upon my character. It made me feel for the weak and unpro- 
tected, and hate the insolent tyrant in every station of life. 
Some acts of tyranny during the late rebellion, have made my 
blood boil with indignation; but perhaps I was wrong, since 
the country at large seems to have borne them with more than 
Christian patience and humility. 

One other incident that occurred during these three months 
of servitude, may be mentioned. The only holiday which I 
was allowed was the first day of January, 181 5; when I went, 
with the other employes of the shop, to the house of a Mr. Dun- 
can, where the day was to be celebrated. There I witnessed 
for the first time the rude sports in which people engage in a 
new country; such as wrestling, jumping, hopping, firing at 
turkeys and raffling for them, and drinking whisky. I was a 
spectator of the scene; taking no part, except that I raffled 
once for the turkey that was perched up in one corner of the 
room, and won it. No persuasion could induce me to raffle 
again; and that was the beginning and end of my gambling, if 
it might be railed such, as I have never since gambled to the 
value of a rent. 

In 181 5, I commenced my apprenticeship with Zaccheus 
Cheney and Alvan Kellogg, who carried on the business of 
carding and cloth-dressing at Xewhope, near my father's resi- 


dence. I was not indentured, but the verbal bargain was, that 
I was to serve during the season of wool-carding and cloth- 
dressing, — which usually lasted from about the first of June to 
the middle of December, — until I arrived at the age of twenty; 
for which I was to be taught the trade, and receive fifty-five 
dollars for each year, except the last, when the amount was to 
be increased. This was thought to be sufficient for my cloth- 
ing and spending money, and all the rest of my time and earn- 
ings belonged to my father, who had a large family and a 
sickly wife to support. I was well pleased with my situation, 
and all things went on smoothly and satisfactorily. The ap- 
parent impossibility of anything better or higher suppressed 
hope, and enforced contentment. I went to school some dur- 
ing the winters of 1816 and 1817, and worked on the farm dur- 
ing the spring. I had thus far had no access to books, beyond 
the school-books which I had; as my father's library consisted 
only of a Bible, hymn-book and almanac, and sometimes a lit- 
tle weekly paper from Auburn; but in 181 7 or 181 8 a small 
circulating library was established in the town, and I managed 
to get a share, which cost me two dollars. Then, for the first 
time, I began to read miscellaneous works. Still. I had very 
little leisure to indulge in this \v ury. I read without method 
or object; nevertheless, I read enough to see the need of a 
better knowledge of the definition of words. I, therefore, 
bought a small dictionary, and determined to seek out the 
meaning of every word occurring in my reading, which I did 
not understand. While attending the carding machines, I 
used to place the dictionary on the desk, — by which I passed 
every two minutes in feeding the machines and removing the 
rolls, — and in this way I could have a moment in which to 
look at a word and read its definition, and could then fix it in 
my memory. This I found quite successful. 

The winter that I was eighteen years of age, I was employed 
to teach a country school in the town of Scott, at the head of 
Skaneateles Lake. This was at that time a very rough and 


uncultivated place, where the boys, the winter before, had 
driven out the teacher and broken up the school. It was not 
long before I saw that the question who was master, had got to 
be decided. One of the boys set my authority at defiance, — 
evidently with the intention of bringing on a fight. I ordered him 
up for chastisement. Immediately, the larger boys sprang to 
their feet, and one attempted to seize the wooden poker, but I 
was too quick for him, and raising it, I stamped my foot, and 
told them to sit down — and they obeyed. I punished the guilty 
one without further interference; but it raised a breeze in the 
neighborhood. A school meeting was called, which I was in- 
vited to attend, and did. I then found it to have been repre- 
sented, that I punished scholars with the poker. I stated the 
facts, and told them that I was ready to quit the school if they 
desired it; but that while I remained, I should be master, even 
if I used the poker in self-defence. After some discussion they 
concluded that the school should go on, and I had no further 
trouble. After my school closed, finding nothing better to 
turn my hand to, I attended a saw-mill for a month or two, 
and then shouldered my knapsack, and came out to Buffalo, 
to visit some relatives and see the country. That was in May, 
1818, and Buffalo then presented a straggling appearance. It 
was just rising from the ashes, and there were many cellars and 
chimneys without houses, showing that its destruction by the 
British had been complete. My feet had become blistered, 
and I was sore in every joint and muscle; and I suffered in- 
tensely. I crossed the then Indian reservation to Aurora, and 
recollect a long rotten causeway of logs extending across the 
low ground from Seneca Street nearly to the creek, over which 
I paddled myself in a canoe. I staid all night at a kind of 
Indian tavern about six miles from Buffalo, kept by a man 
by the name of Lane. A number of drunken Indians and 
white men kept up a row during most of the night. Next day 
I went through the woods alone to what is now Willink, and 
thence into the town of Wales; where a couple of weeks of rest 


healed my blistered feet and restored my suffering muscles. 
I then traveled back through Geneseo, with great ease, making, 
one day, forty miles. Then, for the first time I saw the rich 
bottom-lands of the Genesee River, and the beautiful Village 
of Canandaigua, which seemed to me an earthly paradise. 

I returned to my apprenticeship in June, and improved 
every leisure moment in studying and reading. My attempt 
to teach had made me conscious of my deficiency. I, there- 
fore, decided to attend school, if possible, the next winter. 
But the best school was in a different part of the town from 
that in which my father lived, and I had no means to pay my 
board. Nevertheless, I was determined to go to school, and I 
effected an arrangement with a farmer, by which he was to 
board me, and when the school closed I was to work for him, 
chopping two days for every week's board, which I did. I 
then, for the first time in my life, heard a sentence parsed, 
and had an opportunity to study geography with a map. I 
pursued much of my study with, and perhaps was uncon- 
sciously stimulated by the companionship of, a young lady 
whom I afterward married. 

About this time my father sold his farm, and removed to 
Montville, Cayuga County, where Judge Walter Wood resided. 
He was a gentleman somewhat advanced in years, and re- 
puted to be very wealthy. He had farms and tenants scat- 
tered over several counties on the Old Military Tract. The 
titles were often the subject of litigation, and his professional 
business was mostly limited to actions of ejectment. He had 
a good library, and was a man of remarkable energy and of 
methodical business habits; and from his example and train- 
ing I derived essential benefit, especially from his scrupulous 
punctuality. He was in religious sentiments a Quaker; using 
the Quakers' plain language, dressing in their style, and punc- 
tually attending the l4 Meeting" twice a week, and his office 
the other days of the week from sunrise till nine o'clock in the 


Some persons, without my knowledge, had suggested to my 
father that it was possible for me to be something more than a 
carder of wool and dresser of cloth; and he was induced to 
\ y apply to Judge Wood to know if he would receive me into his 

office on trial, for a little time, before I went back to my ap- 
prenticeship, and he consented. I knew nothing of this, until, 
at the dinner table, my mother informed me of it; and the news 
was so sudden and unexpected that, in spite of myself, I burst 
out crying, and had to leave the table, much mortified at my 
weakness. Suffice it to say, I went immediately into Judge 
Wood's office, and he handed me the first volume of Black- 
stone's Commentaries, and said, " Thee will please to turn thy 
attention to this." I commenced reading, but without under- 
standing much that I read. I soon, however, discovered, that 
I was reading the Laws of England, and not of the State of 
New York. Not having been told that the Laws of New York 
were founded upon the English Law, I felt sadly disappointed, 
as my study seemed a waste of time. I however, continued to 
read, as directed; but received no instruction or explanation 
from Judge Wood. I was occasionally sent out to attend to 
some business in the country, among the Judge's numerous ten- 
ants; and so far as I know I discharged the duty satisfactorily. 
When I was about to leave the office and return to my ap- 
prenticeship, the Judge said to me, " If thee has an ambition 
for distinction, and can sacrifice everything else to success, the 
Law is the road that leads to honors; and if thee can get rid of 
thy engagement to serve as an apprentice, I would advise thee 
to come back again and study Law." But I said, "I have no 
means of paying my way during the long clerkship of seven 
years that I must serve, before I can be admitted to practice." 
He said, " I can give thee some employment in attending to 
my business in the country; and, if necessary, I will advance 
thee some money and thee can repay it when thee gets into 
practice." All this seemed very generous and kind; but how 
was I to get released from my engagement to serve as an ap- 


prentice? To serve out my time, was to waste a precious year 
and a half in learning a trade that I never intended to follow, 
and to lose so much precious time for the study of the Law. I 
had not the money to buy my time, nor any friend from whom 
I could borrow it. True, I was not bound by any legal inden- 
ture, but I had given my word, and that in my estimation was 
equal to my bond. So I saw no way in which my rising am- 
bition could be gratified; and I returned, rather dejected, to 
my apprenticeship. In the mean time, one of my employers, 
Mr. Cheney, had quit the business and gone to farming. Dur- 
ing the summer and autumn I sounded Mr. Kellogg on the sub- 
ject of purchasing my time; and, finally, he consented to give 
up my last year, if I would relinquish any claim I might have 
for the increased compensation which I was to receive for that 
year, and pay him thirty dollars. I agreed to this, most will- 
ingly, and was to pay him as soon as I could earn it. I was 
then in my twentieth year, and immediately took a school for 
the winter, borrowing one or two Law books from Judge 
Wood, to read mornings and evenings. When my school 
closed, I went into his office again, and continued my studies 
until the next winter, when I took the same school, and at 
its close, returned to my law studies. During the summer of 
1821, the Fourth of July was celebrated in the Village of Mont- 
ville, where I was living, and by request I delivered a short 
address. I am sure it had no merit, but it gave me a little no- 
toriety in the vicinity, and a gentleman having a suit before a 
Justice of the Peace in the adjoining town, came and offered 
me three dollars to go and pettifog for him. I got leave of ab- 
sence, and went; but, fortunately for my untried powers, the 
suit was settled, and I get my first fee without exposing my 

Judge Wood, however, soon got wind of it, and enquired 
of me about it; and I frankly told him the whole truth. He 
said he did not approve of my attending causes before Jus- 
tices of the Peace. He instanced several cases of the injuri- 


ous effect of this, and among others that of Elisha Williams, 
"Who," he said, "would have been an able advocate were 
it not for the slang he acquired in attending causes before 
Justices of the Peace." 

I pleaded my poverty, and the necessity I was under of earn- 
ing a little something when such opportunities presented. But he 
was inexorable, and said I must promise not to do it again or we 
must separate. I became suspicious, and perhaps unjustly, 
that he was more anxious to keep me in a state of dependence, 
and use me as a drudge in his business by looking after his 
tenants, than to make a lawyer of me. But I was resolved to 
be a lawyer and nothing else. I, therefore, after expressing 
my gratitude for his favors and my regret at leaving, for it 
seemed to dash all my hopes, told him with great emotion that 
I would go. We settled, and I owed him sixty-five dollars, for 
which I gave him my note, afterward paying it with interest; 
and this is the only aid I ever received in obtaining my pro- 

My father had then become a resident of Aurora, in the 
County of Erie; and with four dollars in my pocket, — three 
dollars of which was my fee aforesaid, — I started for his house, 
and arrived there the last of August or first of September, 
1821; hoping, like Micawber, that something would "turnup." 
Nevertheless, I was very much discouraged. It so happened 
that a relative of mine had a suit pending before a Justice of 
the Peace, which was to be tried in a few days after my ar- 
rival, and he requested me to attend to it, which I did, and 
succeeded. This brought me somewhat into notice in that 
vicinity, and I had several other cases during the winter. As 
the rules of Court then stood, it required seven years' study in 
an attorney's office before I could be admitted to practice, and 
I was therefore desirous of getting into some such office; but, 
no opportunity presenting, I took a school at East Aurora for 
the winter, and managed to attend several suits before Jus- 
tices on Saturdays, without neglecting my duties as teacher. 


In the spring of 1822, I came to Buffalo, where I was an entire 
stranger, and took a district school. This I did to enable me 
to pay my way, as nothing was then allowed to clerks for their 
services in lawyers' offices. I soon entered as a clerk in the 
office of Asa Rice and Joseph Clary in this city. I continued 
to teach and study until the spring of 1823, when the Court of 
Common Pleas (as a matter of grace), at the solicitation of 
some of the older members of the Bar, whose acquaintance I 
had made, admitted me to practice. But, not having sufficient 
confidence in myself to enter into competition with the older 
members of the Bar here, I opened an office at East Aurora, 
where I practised till May, 1830; when I formed partnership 
with Joseph Clary and removed to Buffalo, which has ever 
since been my place of residence. 

I was first elected to the Assembly in the fall of 1828; and 
the rest of my public life is a matter of public record and need 
not be noticed here. 

I was admitted as an attorney of the Supreme Court, in 1827, 
and as counselor in 1829; and continued my practice up to 
January 1, 1848, when I relinquished my profession, and entered 
upon my duties as Comptroller of the State of New York. 

I was married to Miss Abigail Powers, daughter of the Rev. 
Lemuel Powers and Abigail Newland, at Moravia, Cayuga 
County, on the fifth day of February, 1826; and she died at 
Washington, March 30, 1S53. 

I was married again to Mrs. Caroline C. Mcintosh, daughter 
of Charles Carmichael and Tempe W. Blachly, of Morristown, 
New Jersey, at Albany, February 10, 1S5S. 





In volume i. of these Publications, at pages 52, 53 and 199, allusion is made to Mr. Job 
Hoisington (there spelled less correctly, Hoysington) and a full account is given of the cir- 
cumstances of his death, and the discovery of his remains. The publication of these stories 
of the olden time serves to link the early days with the present, and to call up in the minds 
of those perhaps far away from the places where the events which they narrate occurred, 
associations which give life to the iV Dead Past." To illustrate this, and add interest to 
the poem here given, it is suitable to quote a paragraph from a letter to the editor, by Ly- 
man C. Draper, LL. D., of^Madison, Wisconsin, Corresponding Secretary of the Wisconsin 
State Historical Society. He says: ll I am delighted with your volume of publications. 
It does great credit to your Society, and to those who have shared in its production. My 
maternal grandfather, Job Hoisington, is worthily mentioned; his oldest daughter, my 
mother, is yet spared, at the age of eighty-five." 

But the story itself of the tragic end of Mr. Hoisington did not escape the fate of many 
another similar one in those earlier days; since it, like for instance, that of the crime and 
execution of the Three Thayers fsee volume i., page 122) fell into the hands of an elegiac 
poet. He did upon it a (rhymed) execution, — inflicted upon it a (poetic) violence, — rival- 
ling that suffered by the person whose decease was bewailed, or — celebrated. These 
primitive effusions of the Muse became household words with the people of that generation, 
now nearly passed away; many of whom, as for instance the late Mrs. Dr. John E. Mar- 
shall, mother of Orsamus H. Marshall, Esq., could repeat them verbatim et literatim' 
It is fitting that amid the ordinary utterances of historians, in prose, the "fine phrenzy " 
of those poetically inclined should now and then find expression in these grave pages. 

The poem is here reprinted from an ancient copy, without date, in the possession of the 
Society. An endorsement states that this copy was "preserved by Heman B. Potter, Esq.; 
and by his daughter, Mrs. George R. Babcock, presented to the Buffalo Historical Society." 

The original heading of the poem is reproduced below, as nearly as the modern resources 
of the printer's art allow. An ornamental he id-piece, in the original, is very appropri- 
ately composed of Death's-heads and cross-bones, according well with the subject and the 
remarkable reflections of the poem itself. — Ed. 


Death of Mr. Job Hoisington, 

Who fell in the Battle at Black Rock, on the 3CMA Z>ec. } 1813 ; 


By Elder A. Turner. 


A Melancholy fate r 
To you I will relate, 
And give to you a short detail 
Of a poor widow's fate. 


'Twas on the thirtieth day 

Of December, the last, 
Alarm was made, and cannons they 

Did roar and play so fast. 


'Twas down at the Black Rock, 

The battle first began; 
The people they began to flock, 

And to the country ran. 

From Buffalo they flee, 

And make a rapid flight; 
Male and female we now do see, 

Crying, " a horrid sight." 

'Twas " escape for thy life, 

No time to look behind;" 
The husband, children and the wife, 

No more can either find. 



British and Indians all, 

The massacre began; 
Arrows of death, the leaden balls, 

Forbid our troops to stand. 

Widows and orphans were, 

Made in a moment's time; 
Children and mothers, all despair, 

Their fathers, husbands, find. 


How many garments were, 

Stained with purple gore ? 
While blood and carnage do declare, 

The battle it was sore. 


But honor did redound 

To the brave Seelye's name, 
Who did command and stand his ground, 

With candor and with fame. 


While others did retreat, 

And balls like hail did fly; 
This hero scorned to be beat, 

Had rather fight or die. 


But the alarming part, 

Of all the tragedy; 
Broke the kind mother's tender heart, 

To hear her children cry. 



My pa'! they will him kill, 
We ne'er shall see him more; 

O, no! my children, all be still, 
It soon will be all o'er. 


But when the battle's done, 

I look for the return, 
Of my dear husband, Hoisington, 

But I am left to mourn. 

Whether alive he be, 

Or in the battle fell; 
Or yet a pris'ner carried away, 

I surely cannot tell. 

Upon suspense I wait, 

For ten long days or more; 
I now am brought to know my fate, 

My Hoisington 's no more ! 


In death's cold hand he's found, 
Wrapt up in purple gore; 

His head and body scar'd with wounds, 
The tomahawk had tore. 


And still for to increase, 

And irritate my pain; 
Three of my children in great haste, 

Carried by light horsemen, 



Forty or fifty miles, 

Unto Batavia's coast; 
Scattered they were, I knew not where, 

Or whether they were lost. 


After ten days or more, 

I found they were all safe; 
Which seemed to heal my wound or sore, 

And gave my soul relief. 


And now to God with all 

That I do here possess, 
I give away to him, and call 

For gratitude and grace. 


That this bereaving stroke, 

Be sanctified to me; 
That my hard heart of stone be broke, 

And from this world may flee. 


And rise triumphant high, 

Far hence away to soar, 
Above the regions of the sky, 

Where wars shall be no more. 








James Cartier, while exploring the Gulf q£ St. Lawrence in 
*535> was informed by the savages, living on its borders, that 
a mighty river, which they called Hochelaga, flowed into the 
sea near by, from a vast distance in the interior.* Having dis- 
covered its mouth, he explored the stream as far as the site of 
the present City of Montreal. He inquired of the Indians 
whom he met on the way, touching the source of that great 
river and the country through which it flowed. He was told, 
that after ascending many leagues among rapids and water-falls, 
he would reach a lake, one hundred and fifty leagues long and 
forty or fifty broad, at the western extremity of which the 
waters were wholesome and the winters mild; that a river emp- 
tied into it from the south, which had its source in the country 
of the Iroquois; that beyond this lake he would find a cataract 
and portage; then another lake about equal to the former, 
which they had never explored; and, still further on, a sea, the 


* Lcscarbot, p. 300. 



western shores of which they had never seen, nor had they 
heard of any one who had.* 

This is the earliest historical notice ofour great lake region. 

Cartier was followed, after along interval, by French traders, 
adventurers and missionaries; who, stimulated by love of ad- 
venture or the attractions of the fur trade, or inspired by re- 
ligious zeal, were the first to penetrate the Canadian wilderness, 
and encounter the privations and dangers incident to the ex- 
ploration of the vast interior of North America. 

Before the Pilgrims landed in New England, Champlain had 
wintered among the savages on the eastern shore of Lake Huron, 
and had crossed Lake Ontario with an expedition against the 
Iroquois in the central part of our State. f 

As one after another of the principal lakes and rivers of the 
New World were discovered, they were called in honor of some 
tutelary saint or patron, some king or noble. The early travel- 
ers not only rejected their aboriginal names, but, in many in- 
stances, failed even to mention them. The series of lakes on 
our northern border, were originally considered as expansions 
of one continuous river, called by the old geographers Saint 
Lawrence, in honor of the martyr, on the day of whose festival 
the noble gulf at its outlet was discovered. 

During the three centuries which have elapsed since that 
event took place, two distinct races have successively occupied 
and disappeared from this locality, now in the undisputed pos- 
session of a third. 

The traveler in the' classic regions of the Old World, en- 
counters, at every step, venerable monuments and crumbling 
ruins; silent but eloquent memorials of those who have risen, 
nourished, and disappeared in the revolutions of time. The 
Indian, once lord of this New World, now a tenant at the will 
of the white man, was skilled in none but the rudest arts. He 
roamed, a child of nature, over the forest and prairie, absorbed 

* Lcscarhot. n. 381, 

t Voyages de Champlain, Part \. p. =51. Kditon of 1632. 


in his ceaseless struggle for a precarious subsistence on the 
fruits of the chase. He built no monuments and has left no 
records, from which we may learn the story of his origin, his 
migrations, his bloody wars and fruitless conquests. The only 
light which shines upon his annals, is, at best, a dim and shadowy 
tradition. Scarce a memorial of his former occupancy remains, 
save the names he has bestowed upon the lakes, rivers, and 
prominent landmarks of the country. The Iroquois dialects 
still live in their melodious geographical terms, suggesting a 
sad contrast between their former proud and extensive domin- 
ion and their present feeble and reduced condition. 

There is no satisfactory evidence of the existence, in this 
vicinity, of a race preceding the Indians. The ''mound-build- 
ers," that mysterious people who once spread in countless mul- 
titudes over the valleys of the Ohio, the Mississippi, and their 
tributaries, never, so far as diligent research has been able to 
discover, dwelt in this locality. The ancient fortifications, 
tumuli, and artificial structures that abound in Western New 
York, can all be referred to a later date and a more modern 
race. But at what precise period, and by what particular 
people they were constructed, are questions which have hitherto 
eluded the most diligent historical research. The Senecas are 
equally ignorant on this subject. The venerable Seneca White, 
a -distinguished Iroquois chief residing on the Cattaraugus 
Reservation, now eighty-one years old,* expressed his curiosity 
on the subject, in a recent interview with the writer; and de- 
sired to know when, why and by whom those structures had 
been built. Many of them may yet be seen within a few miles 
of our city, and are certainly objects of historical interest and 

Omitting, therefore, from necessity, any notice of the race, 
of whom these remains are the only memorial, we find that the 
first in this locality, of whom history makes mention, were the 

* He died since the above was written, on the nineteenth of May, 1S73. — Fd. 


Attiouandaronk, or Neutral Nation, called Kah-kwas by the 
Senecas.* They had their council-fires along the Niagara, but 
principally on its western side. Their hunting-grounds ex- 
tended from the Genesee nearly to the eastern shores of Lake 
Huron, embracing a wide and important territory. In this re- 
gion, now teeming with Anglo-Saxon life, they reared their 
rude wigwams, pursued their game, and preserved a rig'd and 
singular neutrality between the fierce tribes that waged their 
bloody wars on all sides around them. They are first men- 
tioned by Champlain during his winter visit to the Hurons in 
1615, before alluded to, but he was unable to visit their terri- 
tory. According to the early Jesuits, they excelled the Hurons 
in stature, strength, and symmetry, and wore their dress with a 
superior grace. They regarded their dead with peculiar ven- 
eration. Once in every ten years the survivors of each family 
gathered the remains of their deceased ancestors from the plat- 
forms on which they had been deposited, and buried them in 
heaps, with many superstitious ceremonies. This was called 
the " Feast of the Dead." Many of the mounds thus raised may 
still be seen in this vicinity. A conspicuous one en Tonawanda 
Island, is affirmed by the old Senecas to have had such an ori- 
gin. The land of the Neutral Nation is described by the Jesuits 
as producing an abundance of corn, beans, and other vegetables; 
their rivers as abounding in fish of endless variety, and their 
forests as filled with a profusion of game, yielding the richest furs. 
The peace which this peculiar people had so long main- 
tained with the Iroquois was destined to be broken. Some 
jealousies and collisions occurred in 1647, which culminated in 
open war in 1650. One of the villages of the Neutral Nation, 
nearest the Senecas and not far from the site of our city, was 

* It has been assumed by many writers that the Kah-kwas and Erics were identical. 
This is not so. The latter, according to the most reliable authorities, lived south ot the 
western extremity of Lake Eric until thty were destroyed by the Iroquois, in 1655. The 
Kah-kwas were c.\ terminated by them as early as 1651. On Coronclli's map, published in 
i6S8, one of the villages of the latter, called u Kakouagoga, a destroyed naiiem" is lo- 
cated at or near the site of Buffalo. 


captured in the autumn of the latter year, and another the en- 
suing spr ( ing.* So well-directed and energetic were the blows 
of the Iroquois, that the total destruction of the Neutral Na- 
tion was speedily accomplished. All the old men and children, 
who were unable to follow their captors, were put to death; 
but the women were reserved to supply the waste occasioned 
by the war. The survivors were adopted by their conquerors; 
and, as late as 1669, a small remnant was found by the Jesuit, 
Father Fremin, living within the limits of the present County 
of Ontario. 

Such were the predecessors of the Senecas. A little more 
than two centuries has elapsed since they lived and flourished 
in this locality, and no evidence of their occupancy now exists, 
save the rude mounds which mark their final resting-places. 
Scarce a trace of their language remains, and we know only 
that they spoke a dialect kindred to that of the Senecas. 
Blotted out from among the nations, they have left one con- 
spicuous and enduring memorial of their existence, in the 
name of the beautiful and noble river that divides their an- 
cient domain, f 

A long period intervened between the destruction of the 
Neutral Nation and the permanent occupation of their coun- 
try by the Senecas. For more than a century, this beautiful 
region was abandoned to the undisturbed dominion of nature, 
save when traversed by the warrior on his predatory errand, 
or the hunter in pursuit of game. A dense and unexplored 
wildernesss extended from the Genesee to the Niagara; with 
but here and there an interval, where the oak openings let in 
the sunlight, or the prairie lured the deer and the elk to crop 
its luxuriant herbage. 

The Senecas continued to live east of the Genesee, in four 
principal villages, until the year 16S7, when the Marquis de 
Nonville, then Governor of Canada, invaded their country 

* Relation dcs Jcsuitcs, 1631, p. 4. 

t See " Last of the Kah-Kwas," vol. i., p. 43.— Ed. 




with a powerful army; and, after defeating them near the site 
of Victor, in Ontario County, drove them from their burning 
villages and laid waste their territories.* The humbled Sen- 
ecas, influenced by superstition, never rebuilt a solitary cabin. 
Their abandoned homes long bore witness to that most disas- 
trous era in the history of the Confederacy. We next find 
them in scattered villages on the banks of their favorite Je- 
nis'-hi-yuh;f in the fertile valley of which they resumed the 
cultivation of the maize, and recovered, in some degree, their 
former power and influence. 

During the Revolutionary War they espoused the British 
cause. The atrocities they committed in their savage mode of 
warfare, culminated in 1778 in the memorable massacre at Wyo- 
ming; and induced General Washington, in imitation of De 
Nonville, to send an army for their chastisement. The fa- 
mous expedition under General Sullivan was organized for 
this purpose in 1779; which, penetrating the heart of the Sen- 
eca country, resulted, for the time being, in their overthrow 
and complete dispersion. The proud and formidable nation 
fled, panic-stricken, from their " pleasant valley," abandoned 
their villages, and sought British protection under the guns of 
Fort Niagara. They never, as a nation, resumed their ancient 
seats along the Genesee, but sought and found a new home on 
the secluded banks and among the basswood forests of the 
Do'-syo-w*/, or Buffalo Creek, whence they had driven the 
Neutral Nation one hundred and thirty years before. 

I have thus, with as much brevity as the nature of my sub- 
ject would admit, noticed the aboriginal races that preceded 
us in the occupancy of this region. I consider this as an ap- 
propriate introduction to a historical sketch of the most prom- 
inent localities on the Niagara frontier, and of the various 
names by which they have been known. 

* N. V. Historical Collection, Second Series, vol. ii., p. 1S0. 

1 Or Genesee, signifying beautiful, pleasant valley. The key to the pronunciation of 
the Scr.cca names will lie found in the Appendix. 


On the sixth day of December, 1678, a brigantine of ten 
tons, doubled the point where Fort Niagara now stands, and 
anchored in the sheltered waters of the river.* It had been 
sent at that inclement season from Fort Frontenac, now Kings- 
ton, by the Sieur de la Salle, in prosecution of the bold enter- 
prises conceived by that intrepid discoverer, involving the ex- 
ploration of a vast and unknown country, in vessels built on 
the way. The crew consisted of sixteen persons, under the 
command of the Sieur de la Motte. "Te Dcum laudamus!" 
arose from the deck of the vessel, as it entered the noble river. 
The strains of that ancient hymn of the church as they echoed 
from shore and forest, must have startled the watchful Senecas 
as they gazed upon their strange visitors. Never before had 
white man, so far as history tells us, ascended the river. On 
its borders, the roving Indian still contended for supremacy 
with the scarce wilder beasts of the forest. All was yet prim- 
itive and unexplored. Dense woods overhung the banks, ex- 
cept at the site of the present fort, or at the Indian village op- 
posite, where a few temporary cabins sheltered some fish- 
ing-parties of the Senecas. The stream in which the French 
were now anchored, they called by its Indian name, Niagara. 
It is the oldest of all the local geographical terms which 
have come down to us from the aborigines. It was not at 
first thus written by the English; for with them it passed 
through almost every possible alphabetical variation before its 
present orthography was established. f We find its germ in 
the On-gui-aah-ra of the Neutral Nation, as given by Father 
L'Allemant, in a letter dated in 1641, at the mission-station of 
Sainte Marie, on Lake Huron. In describing his visit to that 
people, he says: " From their first village, which is about forty 
leagues southerly from Sainte Marie, it is four days' travel in 
a southeasterly direction, to where the celebrated river of the 

* Hennepin, p. 74. Edition of i6j3. 

+ Thirty-nine dtifevent modes ol spelling Niagara are enumerated by Dr. O'Callajjh: 

N. V. Colonial Documents, Index Volume, p. 4'. 5. 



Neutral Nation empties into Lake Ontario. On the west and 
not on the eastern side of said river, are the principal villages 
of that nation. There are three or four on the eastern side, 
extending from east to west toward the Eries or Cat Nation. 
This river," he adds, " is that by which our great lake of the 
Hurons is discharged, after having emptied into Lake Erie, or 
Lake of the Cat Nation, and it takes the name of On-gui-aah- 
ra, until it empties into Ontario or St. Louis Lake."* 

The name of the river next occurs on Sanson's map of Can- 
ada, published in Paris in 1656 where it is spelled "Ongiara." 
Its first appearance as Niagara, is on Coronelli's map, pub- 
lished in Paris in 16SS. From that time to the present, the 
French have been consistent in their orthography, the numer- 
ous variations alluded to, occurring only among English writers. 
The word was probably derived from the Mohawks, through 
whom the French had their first intercourse with the Iroquois. 
The Mohawks pronounce it Nyah'-ga-ra//, with the primary 
accent on the first syllable, and the secondary on the last. 
Some controversy has existed concerning its signification. It 
is probably the same both in the Neutral and Mohawk lan- 
guages, as they were kindred dialects of one generic tongue. 
The Mohawks affirm it to mean neck, in allusion to its connect- 
ing the two lakes. The corresponding Seneca name, Nya//- 
gaa//,f was always confined by the Iroquois to the section of 
the river below the Falls, and to Lake Ontario. That portion 
of the river above the Falls J being sometimes called Gai- 
gwaa//-ge//, — one of their names for Lake Erie. 

The name Niagara was sometimes applied, by the early 
historians, not only to the river, but to a defensive work and 
group of Indian cabins, which stood at or near the site of the 
present Village of Lewiston. La Salle constructed, at this 
point, a cabin of palisades to serve as a magazine or storehouse. 

* Relation, 1641, p. ~\. 

tTho signification of this ?cncea word is lost. It is probably derived from the name con- 
ferred by the Neutral Nation. 

X N". V. Colonial Documents, vol. v., p. Soo, and i.\., p. 909. 



In order to allay the jealousies which the work excited among 
the Senecas, he sent an embassy to Tegarondies, the principal 
village of the confederacy, then located on what is now known 
as Boughton Hill, near Victor, in Ontario County. They 
reached it in five days, after a march in mid-winter of thirty- 
two leagues, on snowshoes, during which they subsisted only 
on parched corn. There they found the Jesuits, Gamier and 
Raffeix, who had been resident missionaries since 1669. A 
council was held with the Senecas, and presents interchanged, 
but without favorable result. The French retraced their steps 
to their camp on the river, worn out with the hardships of the 
way, and glad to exchange their meager diet for the delicious 
white-fish just then in seasons- 
No regular defensive work was constructed in the vicinity, 
until the Marquis De Nonville, on his return from the expedi- 
tion before alluded to, fortified the tongue of land which lies 
between the lake and river, and thus founded the present 
fort. The French General describes the position as "the 
most beautiful, pleasing and advantageous on the whole lake." 
As early as 16S6, he had proposed to his Government to erect 
a stone structure at this point, sufficient for a garrison of five 
hundred men, but received no favorable response. Many dif- 
ficulties were encountered in the erection of the new fortress. 
As the place was barren of suitable wood, palisades were cut 
at a distance, floated to the adjacent beach, and drawn up, 
with great labor, to the top of the bank. The work was finally 
completed, and called, after its founder, Fort De Nonville. It 
subsequently appears on some of the maps as Fort Conty, after 
a prince of that name, who was a patron of Tonti, one of La 
Salle's companions; but Niagara soon became its exclusive and 
more appropriate designation. De Nonville left in the fort a 
garrison of one hundred men, who were compelled by sickness 
to abandon it the following season, after having partially de- 

* For .1 detailed account of this expedition, by the same author, see vol. i., p. 260. — 1 i>. 


stroyed it. They left many of its buildings in a habitable 
condition, as may be learned from a curious inventory and 
statement drawn up at the time of the evacuation." No meas- 
ures appear to have been taken for its reconstruction until 
1725; when, by consent of the Iroquois, it was commenced in 
stone, and finished the following year. The "old mess-house " 
is a relic of that year. 

The French having, through the influence of Joncaire, ob- 
tained the consent of the Senecas, rebuilt their store-house at 
Lewiston in 1719-20. It formed a block-house forty feet 
long, by thirty wide, enclosed with palisades, musket-proof, 
and pierced with port-holes. Around this nucleus gathered a 
cluster of ten Seneca cabins; and patches of corn, beans, 
squashes and melons were soon under cultivation. Father 
Charlevoix visited the spot in 1721, while on his extensive tour 
along the lakes; and has left quite an exaggerated description 
of the ridge at Lewiston, which he calls "a frightful mountain, 
that hides itself in the clouds, on which the Titans might at- 
tempt to scale the heavens!"f 

The block-house must have soon fallen to decay, for we find 
Louis XV. proposing to rebuild it in 1727,]; but the project 
was abandoned the next year. 

This locality was always considered an important point in 
the early history of the Niagara frontier. Here was the com- 
mencement of the Portage around the Falls, where all the 
goods in process of transportation between the lakes under- 
went transhipment The traveled road pursued, as now, a 
zig-zag course up the mountain ridge; but the heavy goods were 
raised or lowered in a sliding car or cradle, moved on an in- 
clined plane by a windlass. The remains of the old tram-way 
were visible at a late period, and, possibly, may still be seen. 
The ascent of the ledge at this point was so difficult, that long 

* N Y. Colonial Documents, vol. i.v, p. 386, 

t Charle vuix's I urnal, vol. ii.. p. 545. 

% N. Y. Colonial Documents, vol, is., p. 964. 


before the railway was constructed, the Senecas call it Du//- 
jih-he//-<?h, which signifies, literally, walking on all fours* 
in allusion to the postures assumed by the French and Indians 
while climbing the steep acclivity under their heavy burdens. 
Hennepin calls it "the three mountains," trois mcntagnes* 
referring to the high river-bank and the two terraces above it,, 
which form the mountain ridge. When Kalm arrived there in 
1750, he found one of the Joncaires still a resident. Over two 
hundred Senecas were then employed in carrying furs over the 
portage, at the rate of twenty pence a pack for the entire dis- 
tance.! There were three warehouses at the foot of the ridge 
in 1759, and one at its summit; all used for storing the goods 
in transitu. 

Opposite Fort Niagara, on the Canada side of the river, is 
Mississauga Point, so called after one of the Algonkin tribes 
that formerly resided in the vicinity.]; The present Village of 
Niagara was known in 1780, by the name of Butlersbury, after 
Colonel Butler, of Wyoming notoriety. § It was afterward 
called Newark, after the place of that name in New Jersey, 
and West Niagara and British Niagara. In 1792, it became 
the residence of the Lieutenant-Governor of Canada, and in 
the autumn of that year, the first session of the Parliament of 
the Upper Province was held there. It is an older settlement 
than any on the eastern side of the river, and boasted a 
weekly newspaper as early as About one mile above 
Newark, a defensive work was built by the British, at the close 
of the last century, called Fort George. Between this and the 
river was a storehouse, bearing the high-sounding name of 
Navy Hall; and near the latter stood the residence of Lieuten- 
ant-Governor Simcoe. 

* Hennepin, p. 113. Edition 1698. 
, t K.ilm'v letter in Annual Ue^ister, vol. ii., p. 389. 

X A>> Indian viii.irc existed here .it the time of La Salle's first visit in 1670. 

§ <'.i|!..-rt's Narrative, p. 52. Col. l.utler died in 1796. Mcrritl's MS. 
Called the Upper Canada Gazette, or, American Oracle. The tir^t number appeared 
April iS, 1793. 



Queenston, so called in honor of Queen Charlotte, had no 
earlier name, though the locality was frequently noticed by the 
first explorers. Hennepin speaks of it as " the great rock," la 
grossc roche* referring to an immense mass, which, becoming 
detached from the brow of the mountain, had fallen into the 
river below. It is now plainly visible under the western end of 
the lower suspenson bridge. 

The Devil's Hole and the Whirlpool are not noticed by any of 
the early travelers. The former is more particularly celebrated 
as the scene of a well known bloody tragedy, in 1763. Its 
Seneca name, Dyus-d^'-nya//-g^h, signifies, the eleft rocks.\ 
The Bloody Run, which falls over the precipice at this point, 
derives its present name from the same tragic occurrence, 
though the Indians have no term to distinguish it from the 
Devil's Hole. Their name for the Whirlpool, Dyu-n^'-w^-da-se', 
means, literally, the current goes round. 

It has already been stated, that the Indians, whom Cartier 
met in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in 1535, alluded, in their de- 
scription of the interior of jthe continent, to a "cataract and 
portage," at the western extremity of Lake Ontario. This is 
the first historical notice of Niagara Falls. Seventy-eight years 
afterward, Chamolain published an account of his voyages in 
Canada, illustrated by a map of the country, on which the sev- 
eral lakes, as far west as Lake Huron, are laid down, though in 
very erroneous outline.]; It distinctly shows the river Niagara, 
interrupted by a waterfall, and intersected by an elevation of 
land, answering to the fountain ridge at Lewiston. It con- 
tains no specific name for the cataract, but calls it saut d'eau, 
or waterfall. Champlain describes it as "so very high that 
many kinds of fish are stunned in its descent!" 

The next notice of the cataract is by the Jesuit, Father 
Ragueneau, who. in a letter to the Superior of the Missions at 

* Hennepin, p. tx%. Edition 1698. 

t Tlic river-bank i^ cleft by the action of the Bloody Run. 
% Edition of i'-j2. 


Paris, dated in 1648, says, "North of the Eries is a great lake, 
about two hundred leagues in circumference, called Erie, 
formed by the discharge of the mer-douce y or Lake Huron, 
and which falls into a third lake, called Ontario, over a cataract 
of frightful height."* 

Hennepin is the first who published a detailed description of 
this remarkable waterfall. He first saw it in the winter of 
1678-9, and accompanies his description by an engraved 
sketch,f evidently drawn from memory, as it embraces a bird's- 
eye view of the whole river, as far as Lake Erie, with the 
Griffon in the distance. The two falls, with Goat Island be- 
tween, and Table Rock, are very well delineated, though the 
height is much exaggerated. A group of Frenchmen, viewing 
the cataract from the American side, are represented as stop- 
ping their ears to shut out the deafening sound. 

No doubt the Falls were visited at an earler date by numer- 
ous traders and voyagcurs, but no record of the fact exists. 
The Niagara was not a favorite route to the Far West, the Ot- 
tawa being shorter and safer for a canoe voyage; an easy 
portage connecting its head-waters with Lake Huron? The 
fatiguing transit around the Falls, and the hostility of the warlike 
Iroquois, were formidable obstacles to the more southern course. 

The Senecas call the cataract, Det-ga/z-sk^h-ses, signifying 
the place of tJic high fall. They never call it Niagara, nor 
by any similar term; neither does that word signify in their 
language thunder of waters, as affirmed by Schoolcraft.]; Such 
a meaning would be eminently poetic, but truth is of higher 

The picturesque Islands which add so much to the beauty 
and unrivaled scenery of the Falls, must have challenged the 
admiration and stimulated the curiosity of the early visitor. 
Equally attractive at all seasons, whether arrayed in summer 

* Jesuit Rclatiw .., i6-8, p. 46. 

t Hennepin, p. 116, Ldition of 1698. 

% Tour to the Lakes, p. 32. 


verdure, autumnal tints or winter dress,* they reposed like 
fairy creations, amid the turmoil of the impetuous rapids, iso- 
lated and apparently secure from human intrusion or profana- 
tion. Traditions exist of early Indian visits to the larger one, 
"|** which are confirmed by a deposit of human bones discovered 

near its head. The access was from the river above, through 
the still water between the divided currents. Judge Porter 
first landed there in 1806, and found several dates carved on a 
beech, the earliest of which was 1769. He purchased the en- 
tire group from the State in 1816, and during the following 
year, built the first bridge which connected them with the 
main land. Stedman had cleared a small field near the upper 
end of the largest, and colonized it with a few animals, includ- 
ing a venerable goat. The latter was the only survivor of the 
severe winter of 1779-80, in commemoration of which the 
island received its present name. The Boundary Commission- 
ers under the Treaty of Ghent, gave to it the more poetic title, 
Iris Island, but the earlier one was destined to prevail. 

Judge Porter was one of the earliest settlers at the Falls, 
having erected his first dwelling there in 1809-10. He fore- 
saw the unrivaled advantages of the position, and secured, at 
an early day, the fee of a large tract of land in the vicinity. In 
addition to his dwelling, he erected mills on the site where 
Lieutenant DePeyster built a saw-mill in 1767, and which 
Stedman subsequently occupied for the same purpose. He 
also constructed a rope-walk for the manufacture of rigging, 
for Porter, Barton & Cb.,f who were then the principal carriers 
over the portage, and owned or controlled nearly all the trad- 
ing vessels on the two lakes and river. All kinds of rigging, 
and cables of the largest size required, were here manufac- 
tured. Much of the hemp then used, was raised by the Wads- 

* Those who visit Niagara in summer only, sec hut half its beauties. In winter, the 
sprav. congealed by frost on every tree, bush and rock, flitters with diamond Itistei in the 
sunlight; while, in the gulf below, cones, pyramids and towers, immense stalactites, and 
£rost-*i r's in every variety of form, are jirod'uccd by the falling \\.t;ers. 

t This well-known firm was composed of Augustus Porter, Peter B. Porter, Benjamin 
Barton and Joseph Annin. 


worths on the Genesee flats. Such was the scarcity of men 
in the then new country, that the Judge was indebted to Captain 
Armistead of Fort Niagara, for a company of one hundred men, 
to assist him in raising the heavy frame of his mill. It proved 
to be expensive aid, for the soldiers stripped his garden of all 
its fruit, then very fine and abundant. All his buildings, em- 
bracing dwelling, mills and rope-walk, shared in the general 
conflagration on the frontier, in 1813. 

The village on the American side of the Falls, has been known 
as Grand Niagara and Manchester, and is now incorporated 
under the name of Niagara Falls. 

Fort Schlosser was named after Captain Joseph Schlosser, 
a native of Germany, who served in the British army in the 
campaign against Fort Niagara in 1759.* Sir William Johnson 
found him at Schlosser in 1761. He must have remained until 
the autumn of 1763; for it is stated by Loskiel f and Heckewel- 
der, that he arrived at Philadelphia in January, 1764, having just 
returned from Niagara with a detachment from General Gage's 
army. Heckewelder pays a high tribute to his humanity and 
manly qualities.^ 

The earlier names of the post were, Fort du Portage, Little 
Fort and Little Niagara.^ It was not built until 1750. In the 
summer of that year, the younger Chabcrt Joncaire, informed 
the Senecas that the French government intended to build a 
fort at the south end of the portage, above Niagara Falls. The 
project was carried into effect the same season, and we find 
that Joncaire Clauzonne, brother of Chabert, was appointed 
its commandant. |j In 1755, it was called Fisher's Battery. |J 
When Sir William Johnson invested Fort Niagara in 1759, Cha- 
bert Joncaire seems to have been in command at Fort Schlos- 
ser, his brother Clauzonne being then with him. On the 

* N. V. Colonial Documents, vol. x, p. 731, n. 5. 

tLoskiel's Missions, p. .2_\ 

\ Hcckcwdder's Narrative, p. 8-?. 

§N. Y. Colonial Documents, vol. vii, p. fiat. 

Lewis Kvai V n, ,p. 
ilii N. Y. Colonial Documents, vol. vi, p. 600, 7 n6. 


fall of the former fortress, Fort Schlosser was burnt, and its 
garrison was withdrawn to the Chippewa River, on the oppo- 
site side. It must have been speedily rebuilt by the British, 
for we find Captain Schlosser stationed there soon after in com- 
^J mand of a garrison. The fort then consisted of an enclosure 

of upright palisades,. protecting a few store-houses and bar- 
racks. Alexander Henry, who visited it in 1764, calls it a 
"stockaded post."* The plough has obliterated all traces of 
its existence, save some inequalities in the surface where it 
stood, plainly visible from the neighboring railroad. The tall, 
antique chimney which rises from the adjacent buildings, is 
not, as generally supposed, a relic of the fort, but of barracks, 
constructed by the French, and destroyed by Joncaire, on his 
retreat in 1759. The same chimney was subsequently used by 
the English when they re-established the post. The dwelling 
they erected was afterward occupied by Stedman, who was a 
contractor at the portage from 1760 until after the peace of 
17S3. Me probably remained until after Fort Niagara was de- 
livered to the United States by the British authorities in 1796, 
when he removed to the Canadian side. He left his "improve- 
ments " in charge of a man known as Jesse Ware. They are 
described by a visitor at that early day, as consisting of seven- 
' teen hundred acres, about one-tenth partially cleared, an in- 
different dwelling, a fine barn, saw-mill, and a well fenced 
apple orchard containing twelve hundred trees. f 

There appear to have been three brothers by the name of 
Stedman — John, Philip and William. The traveler Maude 
found John at Schlosser in 1800. While master of the portage, 
he accompanied the wagons and their escort, at the time of 
the massacre at the Devil's Hole in September, 1763, before 
alluded to. It was a return train, embracing about ninety 
persons, under the command of Lieutenant Don Campbell of 
the Royal American Regiment, which had been transporting 

*Travds, p. 183. 

t Voyage par Hector St. John, vol. ii., p. 153. 


supplies from Fort Niagara for the use of the garrison at De- 
troit. Only three persons escaped; — a drummer- boy, by the 
name of Matthews,* who lodged in a tree as he fell over the 
precipice; a wounded driver, who lay concealed in some ever- 
greens near by; and Stedman himself, who, being well 
mounted, forced his way through, the Indians and fled amid 
a shower of bullets, to Fort Schlosser. Two companies of 
troops that were stationed at Lewiston, hearing the firing, 
hastened to their relief. The wily Senecas, anticipating the 
reinforcement, lay in ambush, and all but eight of the party 
fell by the rifle or tomahawk. The entire garrison of Fort 
Niagara were then dispatched to the scene, but arrived only to 
find the ghastly and mangled remains of their slaughtered 
comrades. The attack was made on the train while it was 
crossing the small bridge over Bloody Run, so called after the 

The Seneca Sachem, John Blacksmith, informed the writer 
that the party which made the attack, were young warriors 
from the Genesee, who, instigated by the French traders, se- 
cretly organized the expedition under the leadership of Farm- 
er's Brother, without the knowledge of their chiefs. Eighty 
scalps, including those of six officers, were their bloody tro- 

The Senecas, attributing the preservation of Stedman to 
some miraculous interposition, and believing that he wore a 
charmed life, conferred upon him the name of Gt/-n^s-squa/', 
signifying stone giant. The story that they gave him all the 
land lying between the river and the line of his flight, em- 
bracing about five thousand acres, is undoubtedly a fiction. 
The pretended grant was the foundation of the "Stedman 
claim," which was subsequently urged upon the State authori- 
ties with much pertinacity. If really made, it seems never to 
have been ratified by the Senecas, for at a formal treaty made 

* Matthews died in Canada, near Niagara, in 1S21, aged 74. 


with them by Sir William Johnson at Johnson Hall, in April 
of the following year, signed by Farmer's Brother and Old 
Smoke, it was not only not alluded to; but on the contrary, a 
strip of land four miles wide on the east side of the river, 
>•' commencing at Lake Ontario and extending southerly to Gill 

Creek, embracing the entire Stedman claim, was ceded in per- 
petuity to his Britanic Majesty.* Stedman petitioned the 
Legislature in 1800, to confirm the pretended grant, but with- 
out success. He recites in his memorial, that he took pos- 
session of the premises in 1760, and soon after met with a 
great loss from the Indians; that as a compensation therefor, 
the chiefs gave him a deed of the tract containing 4,983 acres, 
which he had continued to improve for forty years; that 
the deed had perished with the papers of Sir William Johnson, 
which had been buried in an iron chest at Johnson Hall. A 
bill passed the Assembly, giving him the land he had actually 
improved, but it failed in the Senate. The buildings on the 
premises had suffered much from decay as early as 1800, and 
the adjacent fort was in ruins. The old orchard was still pro- 
ductive, the overplus yield bringing five hundred dollars in a 
single season; but the boys crossing from the Canada side, 
plundered most of the fruit.f 

The Portage Road commenced at the Lewiston landing, and 
followed the river until it reached the small depression just 
north of the present suspension bridge. Diverging from this, 
it intersected the river above the Falls, a short distance cast 
of the Stedman house, and followed its bank for about forty 
rods to the fort above. Midway between the house and fort, 
were a dock, a warehouse, and a group of square-timbered. 
whitewashed log-cabins, used by the teamsters, boatmen and 
engagees connected with the portage. J; 

About half a mile below the Stedman house, near the head 

* N". V. Colnninl Documents, vol. vii. p. 621. 

+ Mau<!c\ Niagara, \>. tifi. 

% Manuscript letter oi Hun. A. S. Porter. 



of the present hydraulic canal, is the old French Landing, 
where goods were transhipped when only canoes were used, 
and where the portage road terminated before Fort Schlosser 
was built. Along the road, between the fort and Lewiston, 
block houses were erected about twelve hundred yards apart, 
to protect the teams from disasters such as had occurred at the 
Devil's Hole. The remains of some of these were quite re- 
cently in existence. 

Judge Porter leased the Stedman farm from the State in 
1805, the agent, Ware, being still in possession. He was ejected 
with some difficulty. Legal steps were taken, but owing to the 
unsettled state of the country, and the difficulty of executing 
process in a region so remote from civilization, recourse was had 
to " Judge Lynch," before possession was finally obtained.* 
Judge Porter occupied the dwelling during the years 1806-7 
and 8, when he removed to the Falls. He was succeeded by 
Enos Boughton, one of the first pioneers on the Holland Pur- 
chase, who opened a tavern for the accommodation of early 
visitors to the Falls, and travelers en route for the great West. 
It became the headquarters in all that region, for military mus- 
ters, general trainings and Fourth of July celebrations. The 
buildings were destroyed by the British in December, 1S13; 
but the old chimney was suffered to remain, conspicuous among 
the surrounding ruins, a weather beaten memorial of the ruth- 
less desolation of war. 

Gill Creek, so named from its diminutive size, and called 
also Cayuga Creek. f and Stedman's Creek, derives its only im- 
portance from being named as a boundary in some of the early 
Indian treaties.]; 

Chippewa Creek, nearly opposite Fort Schlosser, is called 
by the Senecas, Jo'-no-dak, signifying shallow water\ prob- 
ably referring to an old fording-place at the mouth of the 

* Manuscript letter of Hon. A. S. Porter. 
% 1 rcaty at Canamdaigua in 17:54. 


creek. Pouchot, in his narrative of the siege of Fort Niagara, 
calls it Chenondac, evidently the same name, and describes its 
banks as abounding in fine timber, suitable for ship-building.* 
It was named Chippewa, after the Ojibway — otherwise called 
Mississauga — Indians, who formerly lived on its banks. The 
Canadian Government by proclamation in 1792, gave it the 
name of Welland River, but it did not pass into general use. 
The earliest notice of the stream is found in the narrative of 
Father Hennepin, who, while seeking a site suitable for build- 
ing the Griffon, encamped on its banks in the winter of 
1678-9. He says, "it runs from the west, and empties into 
the Niagara within a league above the great fall." He found 
the snow a foot deep, and was obliged to remove it before 
building his camp-fire. The narrative incidentally mentions 
the abundance of deer and wild turkeys that were found in the 

The Seneca name for Navy Island, GaV-wa/j-go-waa^, sig- 
nifies 'The big canoe island. This is in allusion to the ves- 
sels built there by the French at an early day, for use on 
the lakes. Hence the French name, Isle-la-Marine, and the 
English name, Navy Island. It contains about three hundred 
acres. A tradition still exists among the Senecas that a brass 
cannon was mounted on one of the vessels. J It was there the 
French reinforcements arrived from Venango for the relief of 
Fort Niagara, during its siege by Sir William Johnson. The 
English built two vessels on the island, in 1764, one of which 
was accidentally burned there in 1767. The island has since 
become celebrated, as the rendezvous of the Patriot forces dur- 
ing the Canadian rebellion of 1S3S. 

Grand Island is called by the Senecas, Ga-we'-not, signifying 
The Great Island. It is mentioned by Hennepin, under its 

* Pouchot, vol. iii., vi. 174. 
t Hennepin, p. 75, bid it ion of 169-?. 

X A brass six-pounder was placed on one of the British vessels in 1764. Governor Stra- 
coe's manuscript letter to Colonel England. 


present name.* At its northern extremity, in a sheltered bay, 
the remains of two vessels may now be seen at low water, 
which, tradition says, belonged to the French, and were burnt 
at the time Fort Niagara capitulated, to prevent their falling 
into the hands of the English. This has given origin to the 
name, Burnt Ship Bay. I have been unable, however, to find 
any historical verification of this tradition. Sir William John- 
son, while on his way west, in August, 1761, encamped for the 
night on the west side of this island, at the mouth of a creek 
now called Six Mile Creek, which he describes as a fine posi- 
tion, affording an eligible situation for a house, and a good har- 
bor for boats. He called it Point Pleasant, — a name, the origin 
of which certainly entitles it to perpetuation. The Baronet 
makes special mention of the fine oaks with which the island 

Cayuga Creek was so named by the Senecas. In January, 
1679, La Salle and his companions constructed a dock at its 
mouth, and laid the keel of the Griffon, — the first vessel built 
on our western waters. The site chosen was just above the 
creek, close to the river bank. J 

In commemoration of the enterprise, the name of " La Salle " 
has been conferred upon the small village and post-office at 
this locality. The same site was selected by the United States 
Government about the year 1804, for the construction of a 
small sloop of fifty tons burden, called the Niagara, which 
was used for conveying supplies to the western posts. The 
vessel was subsequently purchased by Porter, Barton & Co., 
re-built at Black Rock, and named the Nancy, after the wife of 
the late Benjamin Barton, one of the partners. § While bearing 
the latter name she was commanded by Captain Richard O'Neil, 
and went out of commission just before the war of 1S12. 

* Hennepin, p. 40. Edition of 1696. 
t Stone's Johnson, vol. ii.. p. 4;. 

t A full account of the building of the Griffon, by the same author, identifying the site, 
will be found in volume i.. p.i^c :5 V— Ki>. 

§ Mrs. Barton was usually called Nancy, but her baptismal name was Agnes. 


Tonawanda Creek was so called by the Senecas, after the 
rapids at their village a few miles above its mouth, the name 
Ta-ntf'-wan-de// signifiying literally, a rough stream or cur- 
rent. The French called it, " La riviere aux bois blanc," or 
" white wood river." On the early maps it is called Maski- 
nongez, that being the Chippewa name for the muskelunge, a 
fish once abundant in the stream. 

The Senecas have a different name for Tonawanda Island. 
They call it Ni-ga'-we-ntf//-#-#h, signifying The Small Island. 
It. contains less than one hundred acres. Its upper end having 
a fine elevation above the surface of the river, was an occa- 
sional camping ground of the Senecas, before their final settle- 
ment in this region. Philip Kenjockety (hereafter more par- 
ticularly noticed), claims to have been born there, -while his 
father's family, then residing on the Genesee, were on one of 
their annual hunting expeditions. 

Two negro brothers lived at an early day, at the mouth of 
Cornelius Creek, just below Lower Black Rock. They were 
supposed to be runaway slaves. The elder was called by the 
Senecas, O-ga/Z-gwaa//, signifying Sun Fish, on account of 
a red spot in one of his eyes, resembling that in the eye of the 
fish. Hence they called the creek, 0-ga//-g\vaa//-geh, the 
residence of Sun Fish. He was shrewd and intelligent; be- 
came a trader in cattle with parties in Canada and at Fort 
Niagara; chose a wife among the Seneca maidens, and acquired 
considerable property. The notorious Ebenezer Allen married 
one of his daughters, and added her to his extensive harem on 
the Genesee. The younger negro was called So-wak, or 
Duck. Both died more than half a century ago, leaving 
numerous descendants, some now living on the Tonawanda 

Kenjockety Creek was not so named by the Senecas. They 
called it Ga-noh'-gwa/zt-geh, after a peculiar kind of wild grass. 

* Life of Mary Jcmison, pp. 1:4-12^. Turner's Phelps & Gorham's Purchase, p. 406. 


that grew near its borders. The name " Kenjockety," written 
in Seneca, Sg^-dyuh'-gwa-dih, was given by the whites, after 
an Indian family they found living on its banks. Its literal 
signification is Beyond the multitude John Kenjockety, the 
head of the family, was the son of a Kah-kwa, or Neutral In- 
dian, whose father had been taken prisoner by the Senecas in 
L the war which resulted in the extermination of his people. 

This occurred at the capture of one of the Kah-kwa villages, 
located on a branch of Eighteen Mile Creek, near White's 
Corners in this county. His family wigwams were on the 
north bank of Kenjockety Creek, a little east of the present 
Niagara Street. They obtained their water for domestic use 
from the river, then fordable at low water to Squaw Island. 
The creek still retains among the whites the name they first 
gave it — the Senecas adhering to the more ancient designation. 
The old chief must have been a man of more than ordinary 
consideration among his people. The Rev. Mr. Kirkland 
mentions him in the journal of his tour to Buffalo Creek in 
1788. He writes his name " Skendyoughgwatti," and styles 
him "the second man of influence and character among the 
Senecas at the Buffaloe."* His name is appended to a letter 
addressed to Governor George Clinton in 17S9, remonstrating 
against some unauthorized sales of Indian lands. f The Hon. 
Augustus Porter, who surveyed the boundary line of the 
" Gore," between the Seneca Reservation and Lake Erie, 
stated to the writer that he was accompanied during the sur- 
vey " by an old Indian named Scaugh-juh-quatty," who had 
been appointed by the Senecas to act with Red Jacket for that 
purpose. They indicated the edge of the swamp as the line 
for Judge Porter to follow, by preceding him from tree to tree, 
thereby carefully excluding what is now called " the Tifft farm," 
and the remainder of the " Flats," as comparatively of no value. 
This will account for the zigzag course of the line in question. 

* Kirkland's MS. Journal in N'. V. State Library, 
t Hough's Indian treaties, vol. ii., p. 331. 


Kenjockety continued to reside on the creek, until about 
the commencement of the present century, cultivating his 
corn-field on Squaw Island, and drawing abundant subsistence 
for himself and family from the river and the forest. The 
survey of the " Mile-strip " by the State authorities, and the 
arrival of the pioneers of Buffalo, disturbed his tranquil home, 
and compelled him to remove to the Reservation, where he 
finally settled on the bank of Buffalo Creek, near the present 
iron bridge. Becoming dissipated in his old age, he perished 
miserably by the roadside, from the effects of intoxication, 
while on his way home from Buffalo in October, 1S08. 

Squaw Island was called by the Senecas De-dyo'-we-rw.-guh- 
d<?h, signifying a divided island, referring to its division by 
the marshy creek known as " Smuggler's Run. "* It was pre- 
sented by the Nation to Captain Parish, their favorite agent and 
interpreter, as an acknowledgment, says the record, of his 
many services in their behalf. The gift was ratified by the 
Legislature, in 1816, though the Captain was required to pay 
the State at the rate of two dollars per acre before he obtained 
his patent. He sold the island to Henry F. Penfield, Esq., in 
1823. Captain Parish and his colleague, Captain Jones, had 
each previously obtained a donation of a mile square on the 
river, now known as the Jones and Parish Tracts, and lying 
within the present bounds of our city. The Legislature was 
induced to make this grant, by that touching and effective peti- 
tion dictated by Farmer's Brother, which has been so often 
cited as a specimen of Indian eloquence. \ 

Bird Island was originally several feet above the river level; 
rocky at its lower end, and partially covered with tall trees. 
Corn was cultivated on its upper end by Kenjockety's father. 
The island has entirely disappeared, the rock which composed 
it having been used in the construction of the Black Rock pier. 

* Philip Kcnpckcty stated to the writer th. it lie has often passed through this ereck in 
his canoe, on his way to Canada. 

t Copied in Turner's Holland Land Company Purchase, p. sgi. 



Its Seneca name, Dyos-d<!-o-d<?/*, signifies Rocky Island. It 
was called " Bird Island " by the whites, because of the multi- 
tude of gulls and other aquatic birds that frequented it at cer- 
tain seasons.* 

Black Rock being a convenient crossing place on the Niagara, 
became an important locality at an early day. Its history has 
been fully illustrated in an able and interesting paper entitled 
"The Old Ferry," read before this Society by Charles D. Nor- 
ton, Esq.f Its Seneca name, 'Dyos-diJ//-ga-e/<r, signifying 
rocky bank, is a compound word, embracing also the idea of a 
place where the lake rests upon or against a rocky bank. Its 
English name comes from the dark comiferous limestone which 
outcrops at this locality, and, underlying the bed of the river, 
composes the dangerous reef at the head of the rapids. 

Prior to the commencement of the present century, the usual 
route between Buffalo Creek and the Falls was on the Canada 
side, crossing at Black Rock. The Rev. Samuel Kirkland 
traveled it in 178S, and the Duke of Liancourt in 1795. 

Fort Erie was originally built by Colonel Bradstreet, as a 
depot for provisions, while on his expedition against the West- 
ern Indians in the summer of 1764. It was located some dis- 
tance below the modern fort. The part facing the river was 
built of stone, surmounted by squared pickets. The rest was 
stockaded. Bradstreet states in a letter to General Amherst, 
still unpublished,} that "when he arrived at the locality he 
found no harbor. That vessels were compelled to lie at anchor 
in the open lake, exposed to every storm, and liable to be lost. 
In addition to this, they were obliged to send more than twenty 
miles for their loading; that on examining the north shore, he 
found a suitable place to secure the vessels by the help of a 
wharf just above the rapids." "A Post," he adds, " is now build- 
ing there, and all that can will be done toward finishing it this 

* Campbell's Life of Clinton, p. 128. 

tSce vol. i.. p. qi. Ed. 

t liradstrcct's Manuscripts, N. V. State Library 


season." He further says, that "to avoid giving offense to the 
Seneca savages, to whom the land belongs, I have desired Sir 
William Johnson to ask it of them, and they have granted it." 
This letter is dated August 4, 1764. The treaty between Sir 
William and the Senecas bears date two days after, at Fort 
Niagara, and cedes to His Majesty all the land, four miles wide, 
on each side of the river, between Fort Schlosser and the rapids 
of Lake Erie. The islands in the river were excepted by the 
Indians, and bestowed upon Sir William "as a proof," says the 
record, "of their regard, and of their knowledge of the trouble 
he has had with them from time to time." Sir William ac- 
cepted the gift, but, like a good subject, humbly laid it as an 
offering at the feet of his sovereign.* 

The foundations of the present fort were laid in 1791.+ It 
must have been a rude fortification, as originally constructed, 
for the Duke of Liancourt describes it in 1795, as a cluster of 
buildings surrounded with rough, crazy palisades, destitute of 
ramparts, covered ways, or earthworks. Outside of the fort 
were a few log houses for the shelter of the officers, soldiers 
and workmen. There was also a large government warehouse, 
with an overhanging story pierced with loop-holes for the use 
of musketry.^ The stone portion, the ruins of which still re- 
main, was built in 1S06, in the form of a quadrangle, and sub- 
sequently enlarged to more formidable dimensions. The In- 
dian name of the locality, Gai-gwaa//-geh, signifies The place 
cf hats. Seneca tradition relates, as its origin, that in olden 
time, soon after the first visit of the white man, a battle oc- 
curred on the lake between a party of French in batteaux and 
Indians in canoes. The latter were victorious, and the French 
boats were sunk and the crews drowned. Their hats floated 
ashore where' the fort was subsequently built, and attracting 
the attention of the Indians from their novelty, they called 
the locality il The place of hats." 

* N. Y. Coloni a Documents, vol. %ii., p. 047. 
1 huli. in State 1'apeis, vol i.. p. 160. 
; Voyage Luhcodrt, volj «., p. 4- 


In the summer of 1687, the Baron La Hontan ascended, in 
his birchen canoe, the rapids of the Niagara into Lake Erie, 
on his way to the far West.* Appreciating with military eye 
this commanding locality, he recommended it to the French 
Government as suitable for a fort, and marked it " Fort Sup- 
pose " on the map which illustrates his journal. This is the 
earliest historical notice of the site of Buffalo. No attention 
appears to have been paid to the recommendation, and for 
more than a century it remained in undisturbed repose, its sol- 
itudes unbroken by the axe of the woodman, or the tread of 
advancing civilization. Voyageurs, traders and missionaries 
passed and re-passed on the river, but make no mention of 
even an Indian encampment. Nor does Sir William Johnson, 
who ascended the outlet into the lake on his way west in Au- 
gust, and returned in October, 1 76 i.f 

It has already been mentioned that the Senecas fled to Fort 
Niagara in 1779 before the invading forces of General Sulli- 
van, and settled the following year on the banks of the Buffalo 
Creek. A single survivor of that fugitive band is now living 
on the Cattaraugus Reservation, in the person of the venerable 
Philip Kenjockety, a son of the John Kenjockety previously 
mentioned. When the writer saw him in June, 1S64, he appeared 
strong and vigorous, being employed at the time in piling 
hemlock bark. His entire dress was a loose cotton shirt, and 
the customary Indian leggings. He presented a fine specimen 
of the native Indian of the old school, a class now almost ex- 
tinct. He claimed to be one hundred years old, and a little 
examination into his personal history furnished proof of his 
correctness. It appeared that he was about fifteen at the time 
of Sullivan's expedition; and resided at Nunda, on the Gene- 
see. He well remembered the flight of the Senecas on that 
occasion, when he drove a horse to Fort Niagara. The fugi- 
tives arrived there in the month of September, and remained 

* La H'tv.m, tengHsh edition, vol. i., p. 3s. 

t Journal in Sioux's Johnson, vol ii., pp. 451 and 470. 


in its neighborhood and under its protection during the fol- 
lowing winter. The season was the most inclement known for 
many years; so much so that the river opposite the fort was 
frozen from the seventh of January until the following March,* 
and many of the Senecas perished from exposure and starva- 
tion before the ensuing spring. Brant made strenuous efforts 
during the winter to induce the Senecas to settle in Canada 
under the protection of the British Government. The Mo- 
hawks, and a few from the other tribes, yielded to his solicita- 
tions; but Kenjockety's father, who was intimately acquainted 
with the superior advantages of Western New York, success- 
fully opposed the Mohawk chieftain, and prevailed upon the 
remainder to settle in the region watered by the Buffalo, Cat- 
taraugus and Tonawanda creeks. 

While listening to the eventful narrative of the aged Seneca, 
the writer could scarcely realize that the man was still living, 
who not only resided in this locality at the first advent of the 
white man, but who came here, with the Senecas themselves, 
to reap, by a permanent occupancy, the substantial fruits of 
their ancient conquests. \ 

At the time of the arrival of the Senecas, the striking feature 
of this locality was the predominance of the linden or basswood 
over all the other trees of the forest. They fringed both bor- 
ders of the creek, and spread their broad foliage over its fertile 
bottoms. Seneca tradition tells us, that in the season when 
the tree was in flower, the hunting parties from the Genesee 
could hear, ere they reached the creek, the hum of the bee, as 
it gathered, in countless swarms, its winter stores from the 
abundant blossoms. Michaux, the French naturalist, who trav- 
eled through this region in 1807, states as a peculiarity of this 
locality, in his great work on the forest trees of America, that 
the basswood constituted two-thirds, and, in some localities, 

* Mrrritt's MS. 

t KLcujockcty died April i, 1866, nged over one hundred years. — Ed. 



the whole of the forest between Batavia and New Amsterdam.* 
Early settlers say, that the peninsula bounded by Main Street, 
Buffalo Creek and the canal, embracing what is now intersected 
by Prime, Lloyd and Hanover streets, was almost exclusively 
covered with this tree. It was occasionally found more than 
eighty feet high and four feet in diameter. Its giant trunks 
furnished, at that convenient locality, a light and soft wood 
from which to fashion the Indian canoe, and abark easily con- 
verted into various utensils useful in savage life. This bark 
formed the exclusive covering of the temporary huts, erected 
for the shelter of. the hunting and fishing parties that frequented 
this region. The Senecas, in conformity with their well-known 
custom, seized upon this marked peculiarity of the place, and 
called it Do'-syo-Wci, a name strikingly euphonious in their 
tongue, meaning, The place of basswoods. 

The origin of the name, Buffalo, has already been so thor- 
oughly discussed in and out of this Society, that no attempt 
will be made to throw additional light upon the subject. The 
earliest occurrence of the name which I have been able to dis- 
cover, is on a manuscript map in the British Museum, found 
in a collection called King George's Maps, formerly in his 
Majesty's library. It is dated in 1764, and embraces both 
banks of the Niagara River from Lake Erie to Black Rock. 
The American shore is represented as entirely unsettled, cov- 
ered with forest and bordered with sand hills. Buffalo Creek 
is laid down, bearing its present name. Its next occurrence is 
in the narrative of the captivity and residence of the Gilbert 
family among the Senecas in 17S0-S1, which was published in 
1784. We next find it in the treaty of Fort Stanwix before 
alluded to. The Rev. Mr. Kirkland, in his journal of a visit 
to the Senecas in i7SS,f speaks of their "village on the Buffa- 
loe," and from that time the name appears to have passed into 

* North American Sylva, vol. iii., p. 131. 
t MS. journal in N. Y. State Library. 


general use. The Holland Company endeavored to supplant 
it with the term " New Amsterdam," but our village fathers, 
with great good sense, rejected the substitute, together with 
the foreign names which the same Company had imposed upon 
our streets. 

The Senecas, with a few kindred Onondagas and Cayugas, 
on their arrival here, in 1780, established themselves on the 
banks of the Buffalo Creek. The former chose the south side, 
and the level bottoms beyond the present iron bridge, east of 
what is now known as " Martin's Corners." The Onondagas 
went higher up, as far as the elevated table land, near where 
the southern Ebenezer Village was subsequently located. The 
Cayugas settled north of the Onondagas, along that branch of 
the creek which bears their name. 

In these localities the tribes were found, when immigration 
reached them; and here they remained, dividing their time be- 
tween hunting, fishing and the cultivation of the soil, until the 
encroachments of the white man diminished their game, and 
created a demand for their lands too eager and powerful to be 
resisted. We have seen, within a few years, the last of the 
Senecas abandon their ancient seats, on the confines of our 
city, some to locate on the adjacent Reservations, and others 
to seek "a wider hunting-ground" beyond the Mississippi. 

They left the graves of their fathers in the possession of the 

white man, and how has he fulfilled the trust? A visit to their 


rude and neglected cemetery will furnish the answer. The 


grave in which Red Jacket was laid by his mourning people, is 
empty.* The headstone of the captive "White Woman," car- 
ried away piecemeal, for relics, by the curious, no longer 
tells the simple story of her remarkable life. Pollard and 
Young King and White Seneca, and many others, whose names 
were once as household words among us, all rest in unmarked 
graves. They were the friends of the founders of our city, 

* His remains were stolen by n Chippewa. They were recovered by his family ami re- 
moved to the Cattat tugus Reservation. 


when the Indians were strong and the white man weak. Those 
conditions are now reversed. Having crowded the living from 
their ancient seats and pleasant hunting-grounds, let us respect 
the graves and protect the ashes of their fathers. One of their 
eloquent chiefs, De-ji//-non-da-weh-hoh, The Pacificator, 
known to the whites as Dr. Peter Wilson,* has feelingly and re- 
proachfully told us that "the bones of his people lie in exile in 
their own country." Would it not be an appropriate work for 
this Society, to initiate measures for the permanent preserva- 
tion of their dead? The remains of such of their distinguished 
chiefs as can now be identified, should be removed, with the 
consent of their Nation, to our new cemetery. There, on the 
quiet banks of the Ga-no//-g\va/;t-geh,t in the shadow of the 
native forest, beneath the old oaks, where, within the memory 
of the living, their council fires burned, and their war-whoop 
rang,I under the same protection that guards the white man's 
grave, they would rest in security, and the dust of our antag- 
onistic races commingle undisturbed. 

* He died in March, 1S72.— Er>. 

+ The Seneca name of Rcijockcty Creek. 

% Forest Lawn wtts owned, dunng 'he War of 1812, by Erastus Cran~er. then U. S. In- 
dian A^ent. His residence was north of the tall poplars, not far from the Main Street en- 
trance to the cemetery. The oak grove near by, was used by the Senecas for their coun- 
cils at tliat period. They were Mir faithful allies, and rendered us valuable assistance in 
the contest with Great Britain. 



The following list embraces many of the early names that have been ap- 
plied to some of our great lakes and rivers, and to a few. prominent locali- 
ties along their borders. Several of inferior note, though of more local in- 
terest, are also given. The great diversity that has existed in the mode of 
spelling the geographical terms of the Iroquois, has given rise to much con- 
fusion and uncertainty. This has induced the writer to adopt, in reducing 
the Seneca names to English orthography, the admirable system invented by 
the Rev. Asher Wright, of the Cattaraugus Mission. That able missionary 
has published in the Seneca language, which he speaks and writes fluently, 
several works of much interest to the philologist, the fruit of his many years 
of successful labor among that people. The acknowledgments of the writer 
are justly due to him for his assistance in determining the orthography and 
signification of many of the names that occur in these pages; also, to Dr. 
Peter Wilson, Nathaniel T. Strong"'"' and Nicholson H. Parker, all highly 
intelligent and cultivated members of the Iroquois family. 

The following is substantially the key to Mr. Wright's system. If the 
sounds of the letters and accents are strictly observed, a close approximation 
to the correct pronunciation will be reached: 

a sounded like a in fall. o sounded like o in note. 

3. sounded like a in hat. u sounded like u in push. 

e sounded like e in they. ai sounded like i in pine, 

g sounded like e in bet. . iu sounded like u in pure. 

i sounded like i in machine. ch always soft as in chin. 

Italic // sounded like the h in the interjection oh! when impatiently uttered; 
approaching the sound of k. though not quite reaching it. 
When h comes after t or s it is separately sounded. 
Italic a and o represent nasal sounds. 
There are no silent letters. 
A repeated vowel only lengthens the sound. 

* N. T. Strong died January 4, 1S72; Dr. Wilson, in March of the same, and Mr. 
Wright, April 13, 1S75.— Ed. 



GaZ'-da//-geh. "Fishing-place with it scoop-basket." Cayuga Creek, or 
north fork of Buffalo Creek. 

HaA-oV-neh. " The place of June berries." Seneca Creek, or south fork 
of Buffalo Creek. 

Ga-e-nrf-drth'-daa^. " Slate rock bottom." Cazenovia Creek, or south fork 
of Buffalo Creek. 

Tga-is'-da-ni-ytfnt. " The place of the suspended bell" The Seneca Mis- 
sion House. 

Tga/i-sg^h'-sa-deZ. " The place of the falls." Falls above Jack Berry- 

JiiZk'-do-waa//-geh. M The place of the crab-apple." Cheektowaga. 

De-as'-gw#/i-da-ga'-neh. " The place of latnper-eel." Lancaster village, 
after a person of that name who resided there. 

Ga-ytf//-gaawh'-d^h. The Indian name of Old Smoke, who lived and died 
on the bank of Smoke's Creek. He led the Senecas at Wyoming. The 
name is now also applied to Smoke's Creek, and signifies " The smoke has dis- 

De dyo'-deZ-neh'-sak-d^. " A gravel bend." Lake shore above Smoke's 

Jd'-nya'-dih. " The other side of the fiats." Tifft's farm. 

De-yeh'-ho-ga-da-ses. " The oblique ford." The old ford at the pre- 
sent Iron Bridge. 

De-yoh'-ho-g^. " The forks of the river." Junction of the Cayuga and 
Cazenovia Creeks. 

Tga'-n^n-da-ga'-yos-h(z//. " The old village." The flats embracing Twitch- 
ell's farm. This is the site of the first village the Senectis built on Buffalo 

Ni-dyi<?'-nya//-a'-ah. " Narrow point." Farmer's Brother's Point. 

Ga-n^h'-ho/f-geh. " The place filled up." Long Point in Canada, and 
sometimes applied to Erie. In allu-ion to the Indian tradition, that The 
Great Beavtr built a dam across Lake Erie, of which Presque Isle and Long 
Point are the remains. 

Gah-gwah-ge'-gJ-rtrt/i. " TJie residence of the Kah-kivas." Eighteen Mile 
Creek. Sometimes called Gah-g\va//-gC7/. 



Y<?-da'-nyuh-gwa/*'. " A fishing-place with hook-and-line." Sandytown, 
the old name for the beach above Black Rock. 

Tga/4'-si-ya-de/^. " Rope ferry." Old ferry over Buffalo Creek. 

Tga-n^h'-so-d^. " The place of houses" Old village in the forks of 
Smoke's Creek. 

Dyo-ge'-o/^-ja-e/t. " Wet grass " Red Bridge. 

Dyos'-ho^. " The sulphur spring" Sulphur Springs. 

De-dyo'-ntf-w#'-h. " The ripple." Middle Ebenezer village. 

Dyo-na//-da-ee//. " Hemlock elevation." Upper Ebenezer village, form- 
erly Jack Berrytown. 

Tgrt-des'. " Long praiiie." Meadows above Upper Ebenezer. 

Onon'-da/z-ge'-ga/z-geh. " The place of the Onondagas." West end of 
Lower Ebenezer. 

Sha-ga-na/^'-ga//-geh. " The place of the Stock bridges." East end of 
Lower Ebenezer. 

He-y^nt-gat-hwat'-ha/j. " The picturesque location." Cazenovia Bluff, 
east of Lower Ebenezer. 

Dyo-e'-oh-gwes. " Tall grass or flag island" Rattlesnake Island. 

Dyu'-ne-ga-nooh'. " Cold water :" Cold Spring. 

Gahdd'-ya-deh. " A place of misery." Williar.isville. In allusion to the 
open meadows at this place, which were very bleak in winter. Blacksmith 
says the name refers to the " open sky," where the path crossed the creek. 



Lac des Entouhonorons. Champlain, i. ed. 1632, p. 336. So called after 
a nation living south of the lake. 

St. Louis. Champlain, cd. 1632. Rel., 1640-41, p. 49. 

Lac Des Iroquois. Relation des Jesuites, 1635, p. 121. 

La Mer Douce. " The Fresh Sea" Relation, 1639-40, p. 130. 

Ontario. "Beautiful Lake." Hennepin, p. 31. Relation. 1640-41, p. 49. 

Skanadario. "Beautiful Lake." Hennepin, p. 42. 

Cadarackui. Colden, xvi. 

Frontenac. Hennepin, p. 40. 



Erie. Relation; 1641, p. 71. 

Lac Du Chat. " Cat Lake." Sanson's Map of 1651. 
Lac De Conty. Coronelli's Map of 168S. 
Oswego. N. Y. Colonial Documents v., p. 694. 


La Mer Douce. " The Fresh Sea." Champlain, appendix, p. 8, 

Attigouantan. Champlain i., p. 324. 

Karegnondi. Sanson's Map of 1657. 

Lac Des Hurons. Relation, 1670-71, map. 

Lac D'Orleans. Coronelli's Map of 16S8. 

Quatoghe. Colden, xvi. 

Caniatare. Colden, xvi. 


Lac Des Puants. Champlain, 1632. 

Lac Des Illinois. Relation, 1669-70. Marquette's Map, 1674. 

St. Joseph. Father Allouez in 1675. 

Dauphin. Coronelli's Map of 16SS. 

Michigonong. Hennepin, p. 53. 


Le Grand Lac. " The Great Lake." Champlain, 1632. 

Lac Superieur. *" Upper Lake." Relation, 1660, p. 9. 

Lac De Tracy. Relation, 1667, p. 4. 

Lac De Conde. Le Clercq, p. 137. 


Saut d'eau. " Waterfall." Champlain's Map, 1613. 
Onguiaahra. Relation, 1640-41, p. 65. Applied to river only. 
Ongiara. Sanson's Map of 165 1. Ducreux, 1660. 
Unghi.ira. Bancroft's U. S., vol. iii, p. 128. 
Och-ni-a-gara: Evans' Map, 1 75 5. 
Iagara. Colden's Five Nations, appendix, p. 15. 
O-ni-a-ga-rah. Colden's Five Nations, p. 79. 
O-ny-a-kar-rah. Macauley's N. V., vol. ii, p. 177. 

fW- > : 

54 213